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THE 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 



MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, 



THE FACTORY BOY. 



BY 



QpUtiCij*- ) 



FRANCES TROLLOP E. 
•1 



LIBRARY 

•FTHE 

eup.'.ceuNciL, 
SO/JURISDICTION- 



LONDON: 

HENRY COLBURN, GREAT MARLBOROUGH-STREET. 

BELL AND BRADFUTE, EDINBURGH. 
JOHN CUMMING a DUBLIN. 

1840. 



T3 LS3 



C 6 



p.y* 



WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND. 



Council A.A»S#*» 



library of Supreme 

Aug 10*1940 



/J 



PREFACE. 



WfiEX the author of " Michael Armstrong" first determined on 
attempting to draw the attention of her countrymen to the fearful 
evils inherent in the Factory System, as carried out in our manufac- 
turing towns, she intended to divide her work into two portions, which 
should present the same subject under two different phases. It was 
her intention in the first of these to drag into the light of day, and 
place before the eyes of Englishmen, the hideous mass of injustice 
and suffering to which thousands of infant labourers are subjected, who 
toil in our monster spinning-mills. In the second, she proposed that the 
hero of her tale, having lived through his toil-worn boyhood, should 
have*been seen embarked in those perfectly constitutional struggles 
for the amelioration of the sufferings of his class, in which many of 
the more enlightened operatives have been for some years engaged. 

The first division of the subject has been some time in the reader's 
hands. The true but most painful picture has been drawn faithfully 
and conscientiously. Of course voices have been raised to deny 
loudly the truth of all the author's statements, and to assert the whole 
to be a mere tissue of invention and falsehood. The same charges 
have been made against her upon another occasion, and she has lived 
to see the truth of her statements, so impugned, universally admitted. 
She awaits with perfect confidence the time when similar justice shall 
be rendered to these pages. 

But with respect to that division of the subject which it was in- 
tended to bring forward in the latter part of her work, the author's 
views have undergone very considerable change. Knowing the immense 
amount of evil to be remedied, and the urgent necessity, for many 
reasons, that this remedy should not be delayed, it is grievous to see 



IV PREFACE. 

misguided and unfortunate men pursuing a course which must neces- 
sarily neutralize the efforts of their true friends. When those in whose 
behalf she hoped to move the sympathy of their country are found 
busy in scenes of outrage and lawless violence, and uniting themselves 
with individuals whose doctrines are subversive of every species of 
social order, the author feels that it would be alike acting in violation 
of her own principles, and doing injury to the cause she wishes to 
serve, were she to persist in an attempt to hold up as objects of public 
sympathy, men who have stained their righteous cause with deeds of 
violence and blood. The author is well aware that many, as well 
operatives as their superiors, who were engaged in a virtuous struggle 
against the lawless power which oppresses them, deplore the madness 
of these ill-advised men as much as herself. But the cause has been 
too much sullied, and the sufferers too closely associated in the public 
eye with those who have been guilty of all she most deprecates, to 
permit her continuing the work as she intended. 

Under these circumstances she has determined that the existence of 
her hero as an operative shall close with his childhood. No miscon- 
struction of principles, no misconception of motives can exist with 
regard to an attempt to ameliorate the lot of infant labourers. That her 
pages may assist in promoting this object is her humble and most 
ardent hope. " The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong" are, 
therefore, concluded in the twelfth number. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Description of Dowling Lodge and its appurtenances — Of its master — 
Of its mistress — And all the Masters and Misses Dowling — A large 
dinner-party — A hot drawing-room, and the way to escape from it ... I 

CHAPTER II. 

A delightful ramble — Friendship and the Muse — An adventure— Danger 
and escape — Gratitude and benevolence 9 

CHAPTER III. 

Introduction of Michael Armstrong into the family of Sir Matthew 
Dowling — Conjectures concerning his parentage — A confabulation 
between Sir Matthew and Mr. Joseph Parsons 24 

CHAPTER IV. 

A little cottage gossip — Avisit of charity — Practical benevolence 35 

CHAPTER V. 

A separation of loving hearts— A specimen of finished composition — 
Condescension and generosity — Sir Matthew clothes little Michael 
with his own hands 44 

CHAPTER VI. 

Michael's introduction to all the Miss Dowlings — Sir Matthew feeds 
him with his own hand, aud presents him to all his most valued 
friends , ., 52 

CHAPTER VII. 

A popular character—More benevolence— Interesting intelligence re- 
ceived with becoming animation — A select committee— A farewell 
full of meaning.... , .».».,»„. ,,..,..i..4... ..;.<♦ 67 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

PAGE 

A very innocent tete-a-tete, but in which Miss Martha Dowling comes 
to a wrong conclusion — An unfortunate embassy— An agreeable ex- 
cursion — A philosophical disquisition— A visit to the factory 72 

CHAPTER IX. 

Some particulars respecting Miss Brotherton — A demonstration of 
neighbourly friendship and anxiety — The wilfulness of an heiress — A 
gleam of light caught in the darkness 84 

CHAPTER X. 

More wilfulness on the part of the heiress — Private theatricals — Failure 
of a young performer, and its consequences — Philosophical breakfast- 
table — A morning's excursion 95 

CHAPTER XI. 

Miss Brotherton pushes her inquiries further — A well-arranged scheme 
disagreeably defeated — A visit, and its consequences 112 

CHAPTER XII. 

An unfortunate rencounter — An adventure — Miss Brotherton grows wiser 
every day 123 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Disagreeable meditations— A confidential interview with a faithful ser- 
vant — Another interview, not quite so confidential, with a daughter — 
Martha and Michael take a pleasant walk together to visit the widow 
Armstrong — A consultation 137 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Mary Brotherton continues sick in heart and mind— But is roused and 
cheered by her own steadfast will — An o'er true tale 1 48 

CHAPTER XV. 

A tHc*u-tete walk"— Lively if not instructive conversation — The rich 
visiting the podr— Misplaced confidence — Innocent sin 158 

CHAPTER XVL 

Miss Brotherton visits the widow Armstrong, and lays the foundation of 
a very lasting friendship— She then calls at Dowling Lodge, but fails 
of obtaining what she went for ,..< 163 



CONTENTS. VU 

CHAPTER XVII. 

PAGE 

A journey begun in very good style, but ending not quite so well — A 
faithful description of a valley in Derbyshire — Michael makes some 
new acquaintance 174 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

An explanatory epistle, which does not prove satisfactory — Plans for the 
future, followed by active measures to carry them into effect — A 
morning visit to Mrs, Gabberly 188 

CHAPTER XIX. 

A Voyage of discovery — A plain statement, leading to the conviction 
that even where ignorance is not bliss, knowledge is not always hap- 
piness—A hasty friendship that may nevertheless prove lasting 198 

CHAPTER XX. 

Trade in a flourishing state — The benefits conferred thereby to those 
employed in it — The natural logic of religion — Its fallibility when 
put to the test 212 

CHAPTER XXI. 

Miss Brotherton exerts her eloquence, and nurse Tremlett is brought to 
reason thereby — The heiress hardens her heart, and speaks harsh 
truths to Martha Dowling, but all in vain — She conceives a project, 
and sets about putting it in execution with great spirit 219 

CHAPTER XXII. 
Miss Brotherton sets off on her travels, and feels frightened at her own 
temerity — But speedily recovers her courage, and plays the heroine — 
Siie visits some factories, and is introduced to a Sunday-school — She 
approaches the precincts of the Deep Valley 235 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Miss Brotherton and her friend arrive at the Deep Valley — A review — 
Disappointment — " A sudden thought strikes" the heiress — She con- 
cludes a bargain, though not the one for which she meditated — She 
sets out upon a walk 254 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

The walk proves too fatiguing to one of the party, but not to Miss Bro- 
therton — She wanders further, and meets with an adventure, but at 
last returns in safety to her inn — A journey homeward, and a fact re- 
lated without ornament 262 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXV. 

PAGE 

The narrative returns to its hero — And relates why and wherefore he 
was kept alive— The boy grows tall, and takes to thinking 278 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

A dismal enterprise, and its melancholy result — Martha Dowling pu- 
nished more severely than she deserved — Very wild projects conceived 
by Miss Brotherton, and speedily put in execution 289 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

Michael Armstrong sets out upon a dangerous expedition — Its termi- 
nation proves rather more than he can bear — He meets a good man 
and takes service under him — He asks and obtains a holiday, and 
meets several adventures in the course of it 297 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
An important interview — Doubts and fears 821 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

Michael calls his wisdom to council, and the points to be discussed puzzle 
them — An early walk — An old friend with a changed face 334 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Michael grows rich, and takes a very delightful walk back to Westmor- 
land — His preparations for a longer journey are suddenly stopped — 
He makes a painful visit, but meets many old acquaintances 340 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

A friendly consultation — A dangerous embassy — Lady Clarissa receives 
some disagreeable intelligence — An awkward contest — Unpleasant 
visions — A fitting termination to the confidential union between 
master and man 357 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

Mr. Augustus Dowling gives his sister Martha notice to quit the pre- 
mises, which occasions Michael to appear in a new character — A long 
journey taken by novices, but they do not lose their way, and arrive 
at the right place at last 370 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
A tite~a~t$te—A second— A third— A mysterious result— Conclusion .... 379 




w ^z&& , 



THE 

LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



OF 



MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, 

THE FACTORY BOY. 



CHAPTER I. 

DESCRIPTION OF DOWLING LODGE AND ITS APPURTENANCES 

OF ITS MASTER — OF ITS MISTRESS AND ALL THE MASTERS AND 

MISSES DOWLING A LARGE DINNER-PARTY A HOT DRAWING- 
ROOM, AND THE WAY TO ESCAPE FROM IT. 

No traveller can ride or drive within sight of Dowling Lodge, 
without being tempted to inquire, "Whose house is that ?" 

It forms, indeed, a very striking object on the right of the London 
road, as the hill rises gradually, and overlooks the town of Ashleigh, 
one of the busiest in Lancashire, to the left ; for although the trees 
about the mansion are not yet of sufficient growth to make it pic- 
turesque, its lofty portico, well-proportioned wings, and command- 
ing site, render it an ornament to the neighbourhood for miles 
round. 

Those who are admitted to a nearer view of the house (and, for 
the convenience of the public, every Wednesday is set apart for 
its being shown), will find still more to admire, than such as see it 
only from a distance. It has its park and its pinery ; conservatories, 
which cause the mercury in the thermometer, when paraded through 
them, to run up to the cocoa-ripening heat of the tropics, and ice- 
houses that would bring it down again to the temperature of Bhering's 
Straits. It has three drawing-rooms, two dining-rooms, a great 
library, all full of new books; as many bedrooms, dressing-rooms, 
and boudoirs, as a great man's house ought to have, and a study 
besides — Sir Matthew Dowling's own private study. This de- 
lightful little apartment is small, not more than twelve feet square ; 
but nothing can be more agreeable and convenient. It opens by 
one door from the great hall of entrance, and by another commu- 

B 



2 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

nicates through a long stone-passage with the offices of the mansion ; 
enabling the knight to receive, without interruption, not only his 
overlookers (Sir Matthew being the proprietor of many cotton-mills), 
but his coachman, gardener, bailiff, and whomever else he might 
wish to transact business with. 

Of the fitting up of this princely mansion, it is only necessary to 
say, that it is done in a spirit of emulative imitation, which ren- 
ders it fully equal, in this respect, to the most finished private 
dwellings in Europe. The furniture is uniformly rich throughout : 
the picture-frames in the best style of art ; Saxony carpets in the 
drawing-rooms, Turkey ditto in the dining-rooms, Brussels in the 
bedrooms, and indeed not a single inch of Kidderminster any 
where, except in the garrets. 

I will not attempt to state the amount of Sir Matthew Dowling's 
wealth ; Cocker himself would have found it a laborious task to 
make the calculation ; and it is sufficient for the gratification of all 
reasonable curiosity to say, that throughout the whole line of that 
Golconda country, which, being the busiest of the manufacturing 
districts, is probably the richest in the world, there was not any one 
who could vie in wealth with him. In a word, he shone amidst his 
rich neighbours like a golden sun, surrounded by silver moons. 

But Sir Matthew was a superior man in all ways. He was six 
feet two inches in height, and stout in proportion, with hands and 
feet that might have sufficed a giant. His intellectual gifts were 
also of no ordinary character. He liked well enough, perhaps, to 
stand pre-eminent in the commercial estimation of his neighbours ; 
but so enlightened was his spirit, that he liked better still to shine be- 
fore their eyes as a man of taste, a literary and accomplished gentle- 
man, a speaker of modern languages, a critical French scholar, a 
playful votary of the muses himself, and a universal Mecsenas to all 
who wielded a pen in their service. But beyond all else, Sir 
Matthew valued himself upon his reputation for the lighter graces of 
wit and gallantry : he sought to make himself into something of 
a delightful mixture between Kiiligrew and the Count de Gra- 
mont ; and there was no receptacle of wit from Joe Miller downwards, 
no gallant memoirs in an intelligible tongue, that he did not study 
with assiduity and perseverance of the highest order. 

He was often heard to declare, that he loved nothing so well as 
the promotion of mirth and light-heartedness among his fellow- 
creatures ; but tragedy and comedy often walk through the 
world hand in hand together, and their alliance may be traced 
without difficulty in the career of Sir Matthew Dowling. 

The wife of this prosperous gentleman had also many admirable 
qualities. She was not one of the idle gossipers who delight in 
chattering about their own concerns to every one who will listen ; 
she despised such weakness, and had never been heard to hint at 
her own parentage, or early history, to any one; rightly considering, 
that when such matters are unceasingly discussed, they may be ex- 
ceedingly likely to prevent people's minding their own business, 
while devoting an undue share of attention to that of others. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 3 

Nevertheless, with nice and laudable discrimination, she took care 
that her neighbours should be well acquainted with all such facts 
respecting her as it concerned them to know. There was hardly an 
individual within ten miles who was not aware that Lady Dowling 
kept two carriages, six horses, one coachman, one postilion, five 
gardeners, two grooms, three footmen, one butler, and a page — 
not to mention two nurses, four nursery-maids, and more ladies'- 
maids, housemaids, cookmaids, kitchen-maids, laundry-maids, still- 
room maids, dairy-maids, and the like, than any other lady in the 
county. Neither could any be ignorant that, except in the article 
of jewels, her wardrobe might vie with that of any duchess in the 
land, and all might see, moreover, that she was comely still, both 
in form and feature. She conversed with great ability on all sub- 
jects connected with fashionable life ; and though some few carping 
critics thought that she was too apt to diversify the monotony of the 
English language, by indulging in some remarkable variations from 
its ordinary laws, nobody, or scarcely any body, attempted to deny 
that she was on the whole a very charming woman. Such was the 
testimony of her general acquaintance ; those who knew her better 
were aware that her moral qualities outshone, as they always ought 
to do, all her external graces. She was a faithful and exceedingly 
fond wife, and doted upon all her children ; no woman could more 
heartily detest every species of light flirting airs in females, and, 
being deeply sensible of the dangerous attractions of youth and 
beauty in her own sex, she studiously avoided bringing those of 
her family who might suffer thereby from coming in contact with 
any thing of the kind ; so that the female portion of her establish- 
ment consisted of the ugliest set of neat and carefully dressed 
middle-aged women that ever were found assembled together. 

The knight and his excellent lady were blessed with a very 
numerous progeny, certainly not less than eighteen or twenty ; but, 
as they were rarely all at home together, it was at no time easy to 
count them. 

Augustus, the eldest of the family, was a prodigiously fine young 
man, just returned from college. He had not indeed thought it 
necessary to take a degree, nor did Sir Matthew or her ladyship 
particularly wish it ; both of them being of opinion that little dis- 
tinction could be gained by the assumption of a title which was never 
used in society, and to which he conceived every Englishman to be 
eligible who could just read and write a little. But as, on all points 
that concerned the interest of his eldest son, Sir Matthew was too 
deeply interested to run any risk of blundering : he did not give his 
consent for the return of Augustus, without his having gone through 
this idle academic ceremony, till he had paid a visit to the rector 
of his parish, to elicit from him some information on the subject. 

" May I ask, sir," said Sir Matthew abruptly, " what degree you 
took at the university V* 

Mr. Hetherington was a new incumbent, and might, perhaps, have 
been a little affronted at a question which, by the blunt manner of 
it, seemed almost to insinuate a doubt whether he had taken any 

b2 



4 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

degree at all ; but, though a good man, and an excellent clergyman 
to boot, he had a strong taste for humour, and had already dis- 
covered that his neighbour at the great house was rich in more 
ways than one. It was, therefore, with the utmost civility that he 
answered, " My degree, Sir Matthew, was that of Master of Arts." 

" And pray, sir, does it give you any title by which you can be 
distinguished as in any way a superior sort of person in society ?" 

" I am afraid not, Sir Matthew," was the reply. 

" I thank you, sir, for your sincerity," rejoined the knight. " It 
was important that I should ascertain the truth on this point. — You 
are, then, never addressed in company as Mr. Master of Arts, or 
any thing of that kind ?" 

" I have never yet, Sir Matthew, met with any one of sufficient 
politeness to do me that honour," replied Mr. Hetherington gravely. 

" And I suppose you have lived in respectable society ?" 

" Very decent society — very decent, Sir Matthew," replied 
Hetherington, whose mother was the daughter of a distinguished 
nobleman. 

" Good morning, sir; I shall be happy to see you at Bowling 
Lodge — that is to say, sir, if your gown does not lead you to object 
to elegant amusements. I love science, Mr. Hetherington, and am 
indeed devoted to every thing intellectual ; but, notwithstanding 
this, I am a worshipper at the shrine of grace and wit, and could 
not exist among people who did not relish the lighter embellish- 
ments of society." 

" I shall be happy, Sir Matthew, to share in your gayer hours, 
provided I am fortunate enough to find that you have no objection 
to profit by my graver ones," replied the clergyman. 

Sir Matthew returned from this visit very well pleased with the 
new rector. Mr. Augustus was immediately comforted by a letter, 
informing him that he might call in his accounts, and prepare to 
leave the university as soon as he pleased ; and, within ten days 
after receiving it, the amiable young man was restored to the bosom 
of his family. 

Next to this primal hope of the Dowling race, came three young 
ladies, between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one; the two 
eldest of them being as like as two peas, and the third like nothing 
on earth but herself. Then followed several young gentlemen, 
who were placed at different fashionable schools ; for Sir Matthew, 
who was a man of very enlarged mind, declared it to be his opinion 
and his principle, that the patronage of such a fortune as his should 
be extended as widely as possible. After these young gentlemen 
came, one after the other, with the interval of about eleven months 
between them, ever so many little girls, who, for the present, were 
all educated at home, having a particularly clever French governess. 
All the rest were nice little children of different degrees of baby- 
hood ; the dear little girls being remarkable for their long plaited 
hair, short frocks, and furbelowed trousers, and the dear little boys 
for the manly bustle with which they wore their Scotch bonnets and 
plaided tunics, which, considering that neither Sir Matthew nor his 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 5 

lady had ever been in Scotland in their lives, showed great enlarge- 
ment of national feeling. Altogether, it was considered to be the 
finest family ever seen. 

It happened upon a broiling day about the middle of July, during 
one of the hottest summers England had ever known, that Sir 
Matthew and Lady Dowling " entertained a party of distinguished 
fashionables" at dinner. 

It may have been remarked by those who study such subjects, 
that there is a difference between a dinner-party given at such a 
grand mansion as that of Sir Matthew Dowling, and one at a dwell- 
ing of perhaps not a quarter the size, where the owners are of a dif- 
ferent order of the aristocracy, having a longer pedigree, and a 
shorter purse. At both, probably, the banquet will be a costly one, 
yet the one entertainment will come off in a manner as unlike as 
possible to the other. There is something in the usual way of wearing 
stiff new-made grandeur, not far unlike that of wearing stiff new- 
made clothes. Neither the one nor the other sit easily. 

At this splendid dinner at Dowling Lodge, the company consisted 
of a selection from the neighbouring families, made on the most le- 
gitimate principles of exclusiveness ; no family being invited who 
did not drive four horses at the races. To this there were indeed 
two exceptions. The first was the Right Honourable Lady Clarissa 
Shrimpton ; but this distinguished lady, though she drove only one 
pony instead of four horses, was considered by all the country 
round as the one thing needful to render a party completely elegant. 
She was, indeed, neither young, handsome, nor rich, but she was 
Lady Clarissa, and this was enough. 

The other exception was to be found in the rotund person of Dr. 
Crockley, who having formerly been a celebrated quack, made a 
little fortune, and taken out a diploma, had lately married a beauty, 
and settled in the town of Ashleigh, where he was well pleased to 
pick up a few guinea fees, both as a public evidence of his being a 
real M.D., and as a private fund wherewith to indulge his still 
very tender passion, by buying finery for his pretty young wife. 

This fat little gentleman was an especial favourite with Sir Mat- 
thew, chiefly on account of his jocund humour and ready laugh ; 
and also, perhaps, because he had a pleasant way, peculiar to him- 
self, of paying compliments in the bluntest and most unstudied 
manner possible. 

But, notwithstanding the presence of all these distinguished per- 
sons, the dinner moved on very slowly. Sir Matthew, indeed, was 
as brilliant as it was possible for any man to be under the circum- 
stances, and Lady Clarissa, who did not scruple to declare that she 
was very partial to him, listened to all he said to her with as much 
attention at least as any lady could be expected to do, who was 
making one of sixteen at a dinner, where there were an equal num- 
ber of dishes of hot meats reeking upon the table, and the thermo- 
meter standing at 87°. Dr. Crockley, too, laughed repeatedly ; 
but his laugh was like a Lucifer match that fails, just kindling and 



6 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



sputtering a little, but going out before it is able to communicate its 
light. 

The very sight of the servants as they panted round the table, 
was quite enough to smother and stifle all inclination for enjoyment 
— their shoes creaked — their faces shone — ice became water — the 
salad looked as if it were stewed — the cucumbers seemed to have 
fainted away — the prodigious turbot smelt fishy, and its attendant 
lobster-sauce glowed not with a deeper tint, than did my Lady Dow- 
ling's cheeks as her nose caught the unfragrant gale. In short, 
it was a great dinner in the dog-days, and no more need be said of 
it. 

Great was the inward satisfaction of every guest, when at last 
Lady Dowling rose, and gave signal that the party was to be 
divided in half. The languid ladies welcomed the coolness of the 
marble hall as they passed through it, and the gentlemen gazed 
eagerly at the butler as he brought forward a fresh supply of claret, 
and a reinforcement of ice. But the enjoyment of neither party 
lasted long; for Lady Dowling was too grand and too solemn not 
to marshal all her company into her fine drawing-room, where they 
were all ceremoniously deposited on satin sofas, amidst swelling 
pillows that might have defied the frosts of January ; while seven or 
eight hot-looking children were commanded to walk round the circle 
and kiss every body. 

Nor did the gentlemen fare much better ; for scarcely had the 
drawing-room door closed after the ladies, before the shining bald- 
head of Dr. Crockley stretched itself up nearly to a level with the 
long-backed Sir Matthew's breast-pin, whilst, with a very ominous 
sort of growl, making itself heard before his lips opened, he first 
preluded, and then uttered the following speech. 

" I don't like it, Sir Matthew. — I don't like this business at the 
"Weavers' Arms." 

" What business, Doctor ?" replied his friend sharply. 
""Why this meeting, Sir Matthew. I can't get the notion of a strike 
out of my head." Every chair was drawn towards the little doctor : no- 
body had heard a word of it. " Well, gentlemen, perhaps I am mis- 
taken — perhaps there has been no meeting," resumed the friendly 
doctor. " God knows, I don't wish to spoil the enjoyment of this 
delightful hour ; but at any rate, my good friends, it is as well for 
you to be on the look-out." Then lowering his voice, he muttered, 
as near to the ear of Sir Matthew as he could reach, " I know that 
your people are meeting, in doors and out of doors. But you are 
such a good, generous, kind-hearted creature, that I dare say we 
shall hear, before long, of your having done some d — d good- 
natured thing or other, and that perhaps will set all right ; who 
knows?" 

Sir Matthew gave an almost imperceptible nod, and pushed on 
the claret-jug; but the gaiety of the party had been effectually 
checked, and it was not long before the second richest man in com- 
pany (Sir Matthew of course being the first) said, " I do think and 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. / 

believe, Sir Matthew, that my lady's coffee would do more to cool 
us than your wine." The opinion was not opposed, and, much 
earlier than usual, the gentlemen rose, and followed the ladies. 

But this movement did not appear greatly to increase the enjoy- 
ment of either party. It was near nine o'clock, but the heat con- 
tinued to be most oppressive, and the company being for the most 
part massive in all ways, their union produced more additional ca- 
loric than gaiety. The whole process seemed to have the power of 
turning the hours into molten lead as they passed, a portion 
of which appeared to drop, and weigh heavily on each individual 
head. In vain Sir Matthew made the circuit of the company, 
pausing in front either of the richest or handsomest ladies, as duty 
or inclination preponderated ; in vain he uttered his newest puns 
and freshest bon-mots — not one of them had strength to laugh, 
beyond a little feeble " he, he !" and even that was evidently a 
painful effort. 

Things were in this state, when Lady Clarissa Shrimpton suddenly 
rose from the silken couch amidst whose pillows she was im- 
bedded, and, without explaining her intentions to my Lady Dowling, 
or any one else, darted through the open French-window, and out 
upon the well-shaven lawn. 

Had it been possible that any one in the room could have been 
ignorant of the rank of Lady Clarissa, he must from that moment 
have felt an innate conviction that she was somebody ; for nobody that 
was not somebody could have ventured upon so daring an escapade 
from such a solemn presence-chamber. The effect it produced was 
electric. Sir Matthew darted across the room with the eagerness of a 
man of gallantry and gaiety. He piqued himself upon being, of all the 
great men in the neighbourhood, the one upon whom Lady Clarissa 
bestowed the most attention. His estimate of the outward advan- 
tages of his extensive person was indeed not a low one ; and, despite 
all his lady could do to crush such an odious idea, he was conscious 
that he was devoted to the fair sex, and flattered himself that the 
fair sex was not ungrateful. In fact, his general manner to ladies 
had a good deal of what in female slang is called swaining ; but to 
Lady Clarissa it was certainly something more. Had she been simply 
Miss Shrimpton, it is probable that, notwithstanding her great 
mental advantages, she would never have been exposed to the 
danger of this fascinating distinction, for she was nearly forty years 
old, had a sharp nose, and was deplorably thin. But Sir Matthew 
was not a man to be insensible to the charm of getting talked of in 
the neighbourhood about his devotion to Lady Clarissa any body, 
even had she been a skeleton with a Gorgon's head. There was, 
however, independently of her bewitching title, a charm in her con- 
versation and character, to which the knight was peculiarly sensible. 
Her ladyship was celebrated for her devotion both to literature and 
art ; and she permitted all the world to know, for indeed she never 
ceased to repeat it, that talent of every kind was to her an object of 
idolatry. Now Sir Matthew knew that he was full of talent — poe- 



8 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



tical talent, pictorial talent, epigrammatic talent, every kind of talent, 
and it was certainly very delightful to be appreciated by such a 
superior creature as Lady Clarissa. So strongly indeed did this 
intellectual sympathy between them occasionally manifest itself, 
that not even the sharp elbows and red-tipped nose of the noble 
lady, who, to borrow the phrase of an inimitable describer, was in 
every sense " preter-blve perfect," could render Lady Dowling 
quite easy respecting the nature of the friendship. Nor was it 
without something like a pang that she marked the sudden alacrity 
of movement with which Sir Matthew now strode across the floor to 
accompany Lady Clarissa in the extraordinary frolic which led her, 
in white satin shoes and a gauze dress, to exchange the drawing- 
room for the garden, at nine o'clock in the evening. 

But upon this occasion, as upon many others, Lady Dowling 
found consolation in the well-known fact, that Lady Clarissa rarely 
moved a step without being obsequiously attended by her humble 
companion, Miss Mogg. This young lady had been selected to fill 
her present enviable situation, principally from her appeaiance, 
though she was indeed by no means void of many other qualifica- 
tions admirably suited to it. But in appearance she was a striking 
contrast to her tall and slender patroness; and, notwithstanding 
Lady Clarissa's mental superiority, she was not insensible to the 
advantage of having a foil that should set off the charms upon 
which she particularly prided herself. Lady Clarissa had a thin, 
narrow foot, and an ancle that resembled nothing so much as the 
leg of a Robin red-breast ; the person of Miss Mogg was supported 
on shafts that told her Saxon origin, and feet that need not have 
shrunk from sustaining an ox. Lady Clarissa's slender waist might 
have been encircled by a ring of six inches diameter ; a cestus of 
nearly double the span had often gone nigh to suffocate her plump 
companion. The throat of Lady Clarissa had not only all the flexile 
length of the swan's, but might even be said to resemble that of the 
stork in its proportions ; while the head of Miss Mogg was separated 
from her shoulders by an interval so trifling, as hardly to be percep- 
tible at all. The hair of her ladyship, though not very abundant, 
was as black as ink, and its straighten ature enabled her to lay it in 
classic bands upon her forehead, furnishing a graceful foundation 
for the wreath of oak leaves with which, in judicious imitation of 
Domenichino's exquisite head of Sappho, she usually adorned herself 
when in full dress : while Miss Mogg, on the contrary, had a bushy 
abundance of flaxen curls, which gave a round fussy sort of contour 
to her face, that could not fail of setting off to advantage the severer 
outline of the noble lady ; and, in a word, the contrast was alto- 
gether perfect. 

To the great satisfaction of Lady Dowling, this round little per- 
sonage arose, as usual, when her principal rose, and waddled to the 
window after her. Many people are apt to overlook and forget 
companions, and the poor toady is as much used to be trod upon as 
the despised reptile whose name she bears. But if the world in 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. V 

general be found guilty of this scorn towards what is too lowly to 
turn, and scorn again, more especially was our knight liable to the 
weakness. 

As he now hastened to offer his hand to Lady Clarissa in order 
to assist her in stepping over the window-sill, he very nearly over- 
turned Miss Mogg as he passed her ; but heeding neither the re- 
sistance her plump person offered to his passing elbow, nor yet the 
timid " oh !" which spoke her alarm, he hurried onward, and, 
manfully seizing the hand whose touch was honour, walked out 
side by side with the titled lady upon the lawn. 



CHAPTER II. 

A DELIGHTFUL RAMBLE FRIENDSHIP AND THE MUSE AN AD- 
VENTURE DANGER AND ESCAPE GRATITUDE AND BENEVO- 
LENCE. 

*• Only see that ! How very extraordinary !" exclaimed Lady 
Dowling, suddenly rising, and addressing herself to no one in parti- 
cular. 

"Oh! how delightful!" cried several ladies at once. "How 
clever Lady Clarissa is ! Such a delicious refreshment I" " To be 
sure, it is the only thing in the world to do on such an evening 
as this," exclaimed Miss Brotherton ; who, as being the richest 
young lady in company, very properly thought she ought to speak 
first. " I am sure I shall follow her example;" and so saying, she 
rose and walked towards the window. Three of the most daunt- 
less ladies in the party started up to follow her ; which, strange as 
the manoeuvre appeared to the full-dressed Lady Dowling, she did 
not oppose, greatly preferring that the garden party should be 
enlarged. But, though not by her, the adventurous fair ones were 
stopped before they accomplished their design, by a chorus of re- 
monstrances from all the rest of the company, male and female. 

" My dear Miss Brotherton, you will catch your death !" cried 
one. 

" Oh ! look at your satin shoes !" screamed another. " What 
would Mr. Tomkins say if he was here, Mrs. Tomkins V demanded 
a third. 

" And your neck and shoulders, Miss Williamson !" whispered a 
fourth. 

"And your blonde dress, Mrs. Simpkins !" vociferated a fifth ; 
with a vast deal more in the same strain. So that before the sortie 
was accomplished, every lady, save Miss Brotherton, yielded before 
the storm of reasons that pelted them on all sides. The rich young 



10 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

lady, however, stood firm : what young lady with two hundred 
thousand pounds would not ? 

" Mr. Augustus Dowling," said she, still pursuing her way 
window-ward, but pausing ere she stepped out, " will you have 
the excessive kindness, — vraiment j'ai honte; but will you have the 
charity to look in the hall for my pink satin mantelet, trimmed with 
swansdown ; without it I fear my poor little shoulders will be 
arrosees — ' too rudely, alas !' with the dews of night." 

Now the young lady's shoulders were really very pretty little 
shoulders, and, moreover, Mr. Augustus Dowling, notwithstanding 
all his elegant nonchalance, perfectly well remembered that she 
had two hundred thousand pounds; so, before she had stamped with 
her little foot twice, in her impatience to join those who, from their 
gaiety, seemed to be so greatly enjoying the fresh air, he returned 
with the mantelet, and having, as usual, adjusted his glass in the 
corner of his eye to prevent his making any mistakes, placed it on 
her shoulders. 

" Now, then !" she cried, " give me your arm. Is not this good 
fun?" 

The young gentleman obeyed, declaring it was delightful, and in 
a moment they were beside Lady Clarissa and Sir Matthew ; good 
Miss Mogg keeping a step or two behind. 

" Nobody but your ladyship had wit enough to find out that 
there was more air to be got out of doors than in," said the heiress, 
venturing to pass her arm through that of her noble friend. But, 
upon this occasion, Lady Clarissa, though particularly intimate 
with Miss Brotherton, and seldom refusing to use her carriage and 
act as her chaperone to all the parties in the neighbourhood, seemed 
inclined to check her advances. 

" My dear child," said she, " I am delighted to see you come 
out. I am sure you must have been half stifled, as well as myself. 
But you and Mr. Augustus must wander away by yourselves, and 
you may take Mogg with you, if you like it, for I have just got into 
a discussion with Sir Matthew, that I would not break off for the 
world. So away with you, my dear, as fast as you can." 

Lady Clarissa's will was of course law, even to the heiress, but 
it was not without a little toss of the head that she turned ofT to 
another walk ; nor was it without a considerable struggle between 
her inclination and a sense of propriety, which, all things consi- 
dered, really did her honour, that she permitted poor Miss Mogg 
to obey the hint of her patroness, and follow after. 

" And so you really have not seen this gifted young man yet, Sir 
Matthew V resumed her ladyship, as soon as they were again alone. 
" You have never yet seen this Osmund Norval?" 

" No, my lady, I have not," replied the knight; " and to say the 
truth," he added, venturing to press with his stout arm the slender 
one that rested on it, " to say the truth, though I have heard a 
monstrous deal about him, I was determined that I would have 
nothing to say to him, till I had heard your opinion, my lady." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 11 

" How kind ! how flattering, Sir Matthew ! But you will let 
me bring him to you now ?" 

" Will I?" (again pressing the lean arm.) " Fancy me saying 
no, when you tell me to say yes ! Ah ! my lady, you know better 
than that, or I am greatly mistaken." 

" Oh ! Sir Matthew, you are always so kind ! What magnificent 
gardens you have ! By the way, I think I never tasted such a pine 
as that we had to-day. I assure you, my brother, Lord Highland- 
loch, is celebrated for his pines — quite celebrated. They are the 
finest in all Scotland, but I give you my honour, I never saw one 
equal to it at his table." 

" Oh ! my lady, that is only your amiable condescension," replied 
Sir Matthew, greatly touched by this preference. " But if you 
really can be so polite as to think them good, I must entreat you 
just to let me knock at the head-gardener's door, who lives close 
outside this gate. I don't let him live inside, because of his 
children, Lady Clarissa. I know what birds peck the worst — ha ! 
ha ! ha ! However, you must just let me pass through the gate to 
tell him to put up a brace for your ladyship. They shall be well 
taken care of now, my lady, trust me for that ; I never valued them 
so much before, I promise you." 

" You are too kind a thousand times !" said the lady, stretching 
out her own hand to open the gate. " I will go with you ; there is 
nothing I doat upon like visiting a gardener. Could he not take 
us into the hot-houses, Sir Matthew ? You have no idea how I 
should enjoy it." 

By no means displeased to show off the high-born lady upon his 
arm, even to the eyes of his gardener, the knight joyfully assented 
to the proposal. 

" Macnab !" he cried,' knocking as he passed the cottage-win- 
dow, " Macnab ! come here directly, and bring a knife and a 
basket with you ; you must come directly — this very moment, and 
unlock the hot-houses — her ladyship wishes to walk through them, 
and I must have one or two of the finest pines cut, and packed in a 
basket, to be put into Miss Brotherton's carriage : but mind, they 
are for Lady Clarissa Shrimpton ; so you had better give them in 
charge to her ladyship's own man." 

Mr. Alexander Macnab promptly left the seeds he was sorting, 
and prepared himself, basket in hand, to follow his master. The 
knight and the lady left the cottage, arm-and-arm together ; but 
before they again entered the garden, a fancy seized her lively lady- 
ship, that a short ramble in the green lane outside it would be the 
most agreeable thing in the world. 

" Dear me ! what a poetical idea !" exclaimed Sir Matthew with 
enthusiasm. " There's only one thing," he said, stopping short, 
"but that will spoil my pleasure altogether: I am so dreadfully afraid 
that your ladyship will take cold." 

" Ask the gardener's wife to lend me one of her kerchiefs," said 
Lady Clarissa, laughing. " But it will only be to satisfy you, Sir 
Matthew, for there is no catching cold in such weather as this." 



12 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

It was with something quite like tender anxiety that the knight 
stepped back, asked for and obtained a neat shawl, and himself 
wrapped it round the slender person of his amiable companion. 

" Thank you ! thank you a thousand times-! But, dear Sir Mat- 
thew, I must not lose my pines by my frolic : will you give the gar- 
dener orders to get them without waiting for us? and perhaps you 
would let him put up a bunch of grapes, and a few peaches at the 
same time — it is no good to let him wait for us; Sir Matthew ; — when 
you and I get into a chat together, we shall neither of us think of 
the pines again." 

Quitting her highly-valued aristocratic arm for an instant, the 
flattered knight ran back and gave the necessary orders ; and then, 
almost unconscious, in his full contentment, that his own gray head 
was as bare as that of the oak-crowned nymph by his side, he re- 
turned to his bewitching companion and led her gently onward over 
the mossy turf that bordered the road. 

The gardener and his wife stood together for a moment looking 
after them. " Who would think now that she was one of the true 
old gentlefolks, and Scotch to boot, to see her pair off that way with 
our rogue of a spinner there ? How, in God's name, can she choose to 
be so free and friendly with such as he?" said the gardener. 

" Just for the same reason as yourself, Sawny," replied his wife ; 
" to get all she can out of him." 

" And that's true," replied Sawny, setting off upon his business. 
" I had like to forget the pines, and the grapes, and the peaches. 

She's not so far wrong after all ; and yet 'tis a pity, too." 

* * * * ' * 

The evening was still oppressively sultry, and hardly a breath of 
air disturbed either the leaves on the oaks beside the road, or those 
that mimicked them so abominably on the lady's brow ; but, never- 
theless, there was a freshness in the smell of the hedges and the grass, 
which could not fail to be agreeable to any nerves that had endured 
the steaming dinner, and the irksome drawing-room of Dowling 
Lodge. 

The shady lane in which the knight and the lady were thus re- 
creating themselves, after skirting the extensive and lofty walls of 
the garden, turned at right angles both to the right and the left at 
the corner of it. The branch to the left followed the boundary of 
the garden, and led to the stable-yard and back entrance to the 
house ; that to the right conducted to the factory, which was the 
source and head-spring of all the wealth that flowed over, and irri- 
gated with its fructifying stream, meadows, parks, hot-beds and 
flower-gardens, till it made itself a prodigious cistern in the depths 
and heights of Dowling Lodge. 

When the strangely-matched pair came to this point, Sir Matthew 
made a halt, till Lady Clarissa came to the end of a little poem, 
which the protege whom she was so desirous of introducing to her 
rich and (to use her own words) '« really very clever friend," had in- 
scribed in her album. 

Nothing could be more agreeable to her ladyship than this pause. 






OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 13 

In the first place it was the greatest possible relief to her lungs, for 
the lines she was reciting were much too full of deep feeling to be 
repeated without a painful effort, while walking; and in the second, 
the halt, accompanied as it was by a look of earnest attention from 
her apparently-delighted companion, furnished the most agreeable 
commentary in the world upon the poem itself, as well as on her 
manner of reciting it. 

It said so plainly, " Stay ! — move not ! — lest a word, an intona- 
tion, a cadence, be lost to me !" 

Lady Clarissa was really touched by it; and let Sawny the gar* 
dener, and his wife Janet, say or think what they would, neither 
peaches nor pines had any thing to do with the gratification she at 
this moment experienced in the society of the great manufacturer. 

His eyes were fixed on her face, and she bore the gaze, and 
returned it with that sort of courage and confidence, which genuine 
enthusiasm alone can give. 

She had just finished a stanza when Sir Matthew ceased to move, 
and feeling that he did so under the influence of a spell, which she 
well knew would be more powerful still were it spoken when she 
were at rest — for Lady Clarissa was aware that she was exceedingly 
short-breathed — she repeated the last eight lines in a manner that 
showed she felt the pleasure she was producing — a pleasure, as she 
thought, like that occasionally caused by the repetition of some 
delicious phrase in a musical composition, reiterated as if to fill the 
soul with its sweetness. 

" And should the eye for which I write 
By sun-lit morn, or moon-lit night, 
Drop on this record of my soul, 
Which tells a part — ah ! not the whole, 
Of hopes that trembling, faltering, timid, 
Now fire my cheek, now turn it livid, — 
Should that soft eye but drop one tear, 
I'd hug my chain, and call it dear I" 

The tear asked for, almost came as she ceased. 

" You feel it, dear Sir Matthew !" she said, in a voice of consider- 
able emotion. 

" I'd hug my chain, and call it dear!" — she again murmured, 
hanging on his arm with such an evident degree of weakness, as 
showed the slender form to be less powerful than the ardent spirit 
it enshrined. 

" Let us turn back," said Sir Matthew. " My dear friend," 
faintly ejaculated Lady Clarissa, " you are moved too strongly. — 
But — no, no ! Sir Matthew ! Believe me, it were far better for both 
of us that we should proceed. — Are we, either of us, my dear friend, 
in a state at this moment to meet the curious stare of idle eyes ? — 
Come on, dear Sir Matthew!" — and she gently pulled him forward 
as she spoke — " this soft glade invites us." 

Though perfectly determined to find some excuse for not leading 
his fascinating companion within sight of his grim-looking factory, 
which another turn in the lane at no great distance would have 
made very unpicturesquely visible, it was impossible at that moment 



14 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

not to yield to the gentle violence which carried him forward ; and, 
in what Lady Clarissa felt to be very eloquent silence, he proceeded 
for a few steps farther. Considerably, however, before they had 
reached the dreaded turning, his good star shot a ray upon him in 
the shape of a very large cow, with a pair of enormous horns, that 
slowly turned the corner, and fronted them. 

" Good heaven !" he exclaimed in an accent of great alarm. — 
" There is that horrid spotted cow ! she is the worst beast in 
the whole parish. Turn back, dearest Lady Clarissa ! turn back 
instantly." 

" How kindly considerate !" returned Lady Clarissa. " But you 
little know the strength of your friend's mind, Sir Matthew. Were 
I alone, indeed, I might tremble and turn as pale as the veriest 
child that ever hid its face on a nurse's lap ; but with you !" — and 
here the lady turned a very flattering glance on the athletic form 
of her protector — 

" Heaven knows," replied Sir Matthew, once more pressing her 
lean arm, " Heaven knows that all which the strength of man could 
do to protect you, would not be left undone by me — but consider 
the dog!" he added, pointing to a little cur that always followed 
him; '* its power of irritating an animal of this kind is quite 
extraordinary." And as he spoke, he whistled in a note which meant, 
as his dog Spite knew as well as he did, neither more nor less than 
— " At her, Spite !" 

" If any thing can keep Spite quiet," resumed the knight, " it is 
whistling to him." 

Obedient to the true meaning of the signal, however, the dog 
sprang forward, and of course there ensued the scene which always 
follows on such occasions. The dog yelped, and affected to spring 
at the nose of the cow, while she, somewhat accelerating her stately 
pace, threw up her tail, and bent down her head till her horns 
nearly touched the ground, offering so exact an image of " the cow 
with the crumpled horn," with whose portrait her ladyship's early 
studies had made her familiar, that her confidence in the prowess 
of Sir Matthew could sustain her no longer, and she rapidly uttered 
a succession of tremendous screams. 

The purpose of the knight was accomplished , and he therefore 
indulged the fair lady by letting her scream on for at least a minute 
and a half, while he supported her with every appearance of the 
most pitying tenderness. Meanwhile, two little boys, who were 
making their way from the factory homewards, across a field by the 
side of the lane, ran with terrified curiosity, and all the strength 
they had, to a gate, through which they could see the interesting 
spectacle of a fine full-dressed lady, screaming with all her might 
from between the sheltering arms of the magnificent Sir Matthew 
Dowling, and a little dog worrying an old half-starved cow. 

" Come here, you young scamps !" cried the knight, on perceiving 
the two little heads peeping over the gate : " Don't you see what's 
going on ? Clamber over the gate, can't you, and drive back that devil 
of a beast." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 15 

The youngest, but by far the stoutest and tallest of the two boys, 
instantly obeyed this command, and placing himself midway be- 
tween the tormented cow and the fair creature, whose nerves her 
menacing attitude had so cruelly shaken, he stood manfully astride 
in the middle of the lane, flourished his ragged hat on high, and 
with a few lusty " wough ! woughs !" repeated at the top of his 
young voice, succeeded in turning the front of the enemy, which 
was presently seen to wheel round, and, by a sort of feeble, ambling 
little trot, speedily got out of sight round the corner. 

" Now, then," said Sir Matthew, " let me lead you home, my dear 
lady !" 

" Not till I have thanked my little deliverer," exclaimed Lady 
Clarissa, with very sentimental fervour. " Good heaven ! what 
might have been my fate without him ! I know — I feel, Sir Matthew, 
that you never could have borne to leave me, and what then could 
have stopped the fearful approach of that most vicious animal ? — 
Death, or worse than death — dislocation of limb, disfigurement of 
feature ! Oh, Sir Matthew, your heart, I know, will go side by side 
with mine. Tell me, what can I do — what can we both do, to reward 
the astonishing bravery of that noble little fellow V 

11 Depend upon it, my lady, he will be delighted if you will give 
him sixpence." 

" Sixpence !" cried her ladyship, turning extremely red, — but in a 
moment she recovered herself and said : " Oh ! Sir Matthew ! do I not 
know how dearly you love a jest ? Men of wit and humour can rarely 
be grave for long together, even under circumstances that most keenly 
touch their feelings ; did I not know you well, my friend, what 
should I not think of your proposal? But come, come — be serious 
for a moment longer : we have, it is true, escaped a tremendous 
danger, and it may well make us feel light at heart ; but we will not 
laugh over it, till we have settled in what way that heroic child 
shall receive the meed he has earned. I shall not rest in peace, my 
friend, unless his destiny be as favourably influenced by me, as 
mine has probably been by him. Sir Matthew, you have great 
power, enormous wealth, a generous heart, a noble nature, and in- 
tellect, before which, if I mistake not, all difficulties will melt away 
like a mist before the sun. Of all this I am quite certain. There 
is but one if in the business. If you value me, Sir Matthew, as much 
as I think you do, that little boy now getting over the gate will be 
clothed, educated, fed, lodged by you. Do I deceive myself? or will 
the daily sight of him, by renewing the memory of this evening, 
rather cause you pleasure than pain ?" 

Sir Matthew Dowling clearly saw, that sending " the little black- 
guard to the devil," which was decidedly what his heart whispered 
to him, would, at this stage of the business, be inevitably sending 
her sentimental ladyship to at least an equal distance from himself; 
and this he had no inclination to do. She was the only Lady Some- 
body Something in the whole neighbourhood, and he was quite aware 
that he had already acquired more envy and hatred among his 
friends and neighbours, by the superior degree of intimacy he had 



16 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

contrived to achieve with her, than by all his successful struggles 
to outspend them all. 

This pleasure was not to be given up for a trifle, especially at a 
moment when it seemed so very clear that it only depended on him- 
self to make all the world perceive that they were dearer friends 
than ever; so, making a virtue of necessity, he looked in her face 
with one of his wittiest smiles, and cleverly taking the cue she had 
given, replied — " If you had not found out that I was jesting with 
you, Lady Clarissa, I never should have believed in your friendship 
more! Come here, my boy, v he continued, raising his loud voice to 
a note that must have been heard as far as the factory, " come here, 
I say." 

The little fellow, on hearing these imperative accents,!which were 
not quite unknown to him, thought this was the first time he had 
been so greatly honoured as to have them addressed to himself, 
again let go the hand of his brother, by whose side he had begun to 
resume his progress homeward, and once more clambering over 
the gate, presented himself, cap in hand, before the illustrious 
pair. 

" You are a happy little boy," said Lady Clarissa, " in having had 
the extraordinary good fortune of looking over yonder gate at the 
moment you did ; and you are a brave little fellow into the bargain 
for not running away, as you certainly might have done, when you 
saw that dreadful beast. Oh ! those tremendous horns, Sir Matthew ! 
they haunt me still ! I am quite sure it will be weeks before I lay 
my head on my pillow without dreaming of them. But you drove 
them away, my dear child, and as a reward for it, you shall be com- 
fortably clothed and fed for the rest of your life. You will like that, 
won't you?" 

" I should very much like never to go to work at the factory any 
more," replied the child ; " but, please ma'am," he added the minute 
after, " I'd sooner you'd clothe and feed Teddy than me. He looked 
over the gate first, please ma'am." 

" Did he, my dear ? Then that is another reason why this good 
gentleman's favour should be shown to you ; for if your brother saw 
my distress first, it was you who were the first to relieve it." 

"That was only because Teddy is so lame, please ma'am," said 
the boy. 

" Lame, is he?'' repeated her ladyship, " Poor fellow ! However, 
my little man, if I do not greatly mistake, you have this day made 
a friend by serving me, who will put you in a situation where, if you 
behave well, you will be able to assist all who belong to you." 

The child opened a pair of remarkably large eyes, and fixing 
them on her face, said, " What ! mother and all?" 

" Yes, I should think so, my dear. He is a fine intelligent look- 
ing little fellow, is he not, Sir Matthew ? But he does not look 
healthy. However, I dare say he will improve in that respect. 
Plenty of food generally cures all poor people's complaints, par- 
ticularly when they are young. How old are you, my dear ?" 
" Nine last birthday," replied the boy. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 17 

* A tall little fellow for his age, though very thin, to be sure. 
And what is your name?" 

" Michael Armstrong, ma'am." 

" Michael Armstrong : I shall not forget it, I assure you ; for truly 
do I believe that I should have been trampled in the dust by this 
time, if you had not been heart-strong as well as Armstrong. And 
what shall we do with him at first, Sir Matthew ? Shall we take 
him home with us ?" 

" What ! to your cottage, my dear lady ? — Yes, certainly, if it 
will srive you pleasure." 

"My dearest Sir Matthew! there you are at your jestings 
again." 

"Ha! ha! ha! Lady Clarissa, you begin to know me so well, 
that I shall never be able to cut my little dry jokes upon you," re- 
plied the knight laughing, as it seemed, most heartily, but inwardly 
cursing the audacious exaction of his fair friend, in attempting to 
make him pay the enormous price she hinted at, for permitting him 
to enjoy the honour and glory of flirting with her. The idea of 
being thus entrapped, and forced to adopt " a bag of rags out of 
his own factory" (for it was thus he inwardly designated little 
Michael), galled him for a moment so severely, that he was within an 
ace of exclaiming, " Confound you, and the beggar s brat together, 
you old fool /" But, most fortunately 'for all parties, he^did no such 
thing ; on the contrary, he happily remembered at that critical 
moment the important hints he had received from his excellent 
friend Dr. Crockley, and instantly decided " that this absurd whim 
of her ladyship's should be worked up into the d — d good-natured 
thing that was to set all right." 

At the very same moment, as if to confirm his resolution, Lady 
Clarissa drew from her pocket a cambric pocket-handkerchief, 
something the worse for wear, perhaps, but most elaborately em- 
broidered at each corner with the coronet of a countess. It was 
one of a dozen bequeathed to her a few years before by her thrifty 
and truly admirable mother, the late Countess of Highlandloch. 
This coincidence appeared to be the work of Providence. 

" Give me your arm, my charming friend !" said the well-satisfied 
knight, with an air of tender gallantry, "and only remember, that 
all I shall do in this business, will proceed wholly from my devoted 
friendship to you. Follow us, little boy, and you shall learn what 
it is to have served Sir Matthew Dowling's most honoured friend." 
Having said this, he began leading his fair companion back 
towards the house as rapidly as might be consistent with the delicate 
style in which she was shod. 

"Please ma'am, may I go and tell Teddy?" said little Michael, 
walking after them. 

"Teddy? — who is Teddy, my little man V inquired Lady Cla- 
rissa, graciously smiling upon him ; for her ladyship, at no time 
an ill-natured woman, was at this moment in the best of all possible 
humours with herself, and every body else. There had been 
various passages in what had passed between herself and Sir 

c 



18 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Matthew, during this most delightful walk, which convinced her that 
the knight, notwithstanding the homage he paid to her rank, 
could not wholly resist the fascinations of her person, talents, 
and manners ; — and the conviction pleased her. But let not the 
character of this noble lady be for a moment misunderstood. 
Lucretia herself would hardly have shrunk with greater horror from 
an improper attachment. All she dreamed of in her intimacy with 
Sir Matthew Dowling, with the young poet, Osmund Norval, and 
with a few other gentlemen whom she was in the habit of meeting, 
was but that their admiring friendship should be animated by a 
lambent, innoxious flickering of the flame, which, after a peculiar 
theory of her own, she believed to pervade the universe, cheering 
the well-conducted by its mild platonic warmth, but scorching, 
burning, and destroying those who permitted it to exercise over 
them a too-sovereign sway and masterdom. That she had reached 
the age of forty, unsolicited in marriage by any suitor of any de- 
gree, she attributed, rightly enough perhaps, to the unfortunate 
disproportion between her fortune and her rank — but must she, 
therefore, live and die without the sweet consciousness of having 
been loved ? Where was the law that enforced such cruelty ? She 
knew it not ; and accordingly had, for many years, and quite upon 
principle, made up her mind to permit as many gentlemen, of all 
ages, ranks, and conditions, to deserve " the soft impeachment, " 
whether they owned it or not, as it was in her power to captivate. 
For most of these tender and really very innocent friendships, she 
was able to assign to herself some excellent cause — as poetical 
sympathy with one, botanical sympathy with another, philosophical 
religious sympathy with a third, and so on ; but in the case of Sir 
Matthew Dowling, she sometimes felt a little puzzled herself. 

It was not, however, that she was weak enough in the least de- 
gree to blame herself for wishing to be admired by a vulgar man. 
She had long ago given such feelings to the winds. From the time 
she quitted, on the death of her mother, the floods and the fells of 
her native land, to inhabit a pretty little cottage (the timely gift of 
an English godmother), which happened to be situated in the midst 
of a manufacturing district, she had been schooling her spirit to en- 
dure the change from poor lairds of a hundred descents, to rich ma- 
nufacturers, who would have been, for the most part, quite as pleased 
had they been unable to trace one. Just at first, her Scotch pride 
rebelled a little ; but an hour or two of quiet meditation on the 
subject, led her to perceive so clearly all she might lose, and all 
she might gain, by being or not being on friendly terms with her 
neighbours, that she made up her mind on the matter at once, 
and thenceforward feasted upon delicate cates, and battened in the 
fructifying sunshine of universal popularity, in a neighbourhood that 
might be safely described as the richest in the world. 

But still this did not quite explain the terms she was upon with 
Sir Matthew Dowling, and she did feel sometimes conscious of 
taking more pains to please him than she quite knew why — uncon- 
scious that it arose from a latent wish to be distinguished by a man, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 19 

celebrated for the warmth of his devotion to the fair sex. But for 
this, she must not be out of measure blamed, inasmuch as those 
who have reached the age for looking on upon the drama of life, 
can many of them testify that in this she only yielded to a weak- 
ness very unaccountably common to the majority of the sex. 

But poor little Michael Armstrong has been left unmercifully 
long, looking up in her ladyship's smiling face, as she inquired who 
Teddy was. 

" Teddy is my brother, please ma'am," was his answer. 

" Is he still waiting for you at the gate, my dear?" said the lady. 
" I don't see him." 

" He can't stand very well, ma'am, because he is lame," replied 
Michael. " I shouldn't wonder if he was set down, and gone to 



" Gone to sleep ! — why it is hardly bedtime yet, my dear, is it? 
However, I suppose he had better go to see, Sir Matthew ? — Your 
brother," turning again to the child, " is younger than you are, I 
suppose, if he falls asleep on the grass like a baby. Is he old 
enough to go home by himself, and tell the great news that has 
happened to you ?" 

" Teddy is two years older than me — only he is always so tired," 
replied the boy. 

" Well, then, just step back, and bid him run along home by 
himself, and tell all the family what a fine act you have done, and 
that Sir Matthew Dowling is going to take care of you all the rest 
of your life." 

Michael now, for the first time, ventured to look steadily up into 
the face of the majestic Sir Matthew, and his little heart sank with- 
in him. It was quite evident from the child's speaking-countenance, 
that no pleasurable ideas were suggested, by the assurance that Sir 
Matthew would take care of him all the rest of his life. The knight 
saw this, and would for a moment have desired no better sport than 
wringing his neck round ; nevertheless, he patted his head with as- 
tonishing condescension, and said, " It is quite true, my boy. For 
the sake of this charming lady, for whose happiness you must pray 
morning, noon, and night, I will undertake to provide for you. 
You may step back, if you will, and tell your brother so, who, if he 
be two years older than you, will be able to make your friends un- 
derstand the good fortune that has happened to you." 

" I have got no friends, please sir," said the boy. 

" Where do you live then ?" 

" With mother, sir." 

" Is not she your friend, my poor child ?" demanded Lady Clarissa 
in an accent of great feeling. 

" Please ma'am, she is my mother," answered Michael, while a 
slight flash mantled his pale cheek, and something like a tear 
twinkled in his eye. 

" How very odd !" exclaimed Lady Clarissa. " Is she not kind 
to you, my boy ?" 

" Kind ?" responded Michael, staring at her. 

c 2 



"20 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Do you love her, my little fellow ?" 
( * Love her ?" again echoed Michael. 

" "Whatever she is, she has not taught you good manners, my 
lad, or you would not answer her ladyship this way," said the 
knight rather indignantly. 

The little boy was certainly very foolish, for, large as his eyes were, 
they could not contain the salt rheum which, for no reason in the 
world that the lady or gentleman could guess, first filled them and 
then ran down in two great big drops upon his cheeks. 

" I dare say he is hungry," exclaimed Lady Clarissa with sudden 
animation. " How delightful, dearest Sir Matthew, to have found 
a little creature so greatly in want! Are you hungry, my dear? 
Tell the truth— don't be afraid." 

" Not very," said the child. 

" Poor little fellow ! — It is quite evident, Sir Matthew, that he is 
exceedingly shy. Let us go back, shall we? — just as far as the 
gate, and give the message ourselves to that lazy fellow that he says 
is asleep under the hedge — and two years older than this one. — 
Only conceive ! — I am delighted that he is not to be the object of 
your bounty, for there is nothing so detestable as idleness." 

Sir Matthew had turned in compliance with the word and action, 
which expressed her ladyship's desire that he should do so, and in 
another minute they reached the gate. 

" Where is this brother of yours ? — I don't see him/' said Lady 
Clarissa, looking about. 

" There he is, ma'am, if you please," replied Michael, once more 
climbing over the gate ; and presently he was close under the 
flowery hedge, extending his two hands to raise a miserably sick- 
looking child, who was, in truth, soundly sleeping there. In con- 
sequence of a few words whispered to him by little Michael, the 
boy came forward with a shuffling gait, his knees sloping inwards, 
and his legs frightfully emaciated ; but the moment he reached the 
gate, Lady Clarissa exclaimed, " Good gracious ! how beautiful !" 

It was indeed a lovely face that was then turned up to meet her 
-eye; and when, as if somewhat daunted by her earnest gaze, he 
removed his own from her countenance to that of Sir Matthew, the 
bright flash that lighted it up for a moment made it appear more 
beautiful still. 

" And what is your name, my pretty boy ?" said the lady. 

" Edward Armstrong," was the reply. 

" But, my dear child, you don't look well, and you ought not to 
go to sleep so, quite late in the evening, upon the grass. What 
enakes you so very sleepy, my dear ? Have you been at play?" 

'" No, ma'am," replied the toy, furtively glancing at Sir Matthew, 
" I have been at work." 

" At work ! You can't have done much work, my poor little 
fellow, looking as you do." 

" I have been at work since" — 

" My -"ear Lady Clarissa, I really will not let you stay another 
moment," suddenly exclaimed Sir Matthew. '« The heat is gone 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 21 

off, and I am sure you will be quite chilled if you remain any longer 
out. of doors." 

" I believe you are right, my dear friend," said Lady Clarissa, 
with a glance of affectionate gratitude for this earnest zeal. " Let 
us go. Never can I forget the kindness you have shown me during" 
this eventful walk, and heartless indeed must I be were I to refuse 
to acknowledge that it has made a deep impression on me." 

For a moment Lady Clarissa held her coroneted handkerchief to 
her eyes, and then resumed. " Go home, little Edward — tell your 
mother, who, by the by, I trust is not harsh to you, that your brother 
Michael is rewarded for an act of bravery that probably saved the 
life of an earl's daughter — has been most generously and nobly 
adopted by her friend Sir Matthew Dowling, and that henceforward 
she need have no anxiety whatever on his account. Now, then, Sir 
Matthew, I am ready." 

" Are we never to see Michael again ?" said the lame boy, while 
a sudden expression of anguish passed across his beautiful features. 
" Why not, child?" replied her ladyship rather sharply. " Bo 
you suppose that Sir Matthew and I are going to hide him?" 

" It is all very well then," returned Edward, limping away. 
" But be sure to go and tell mother all about it yourself to-morrow, 
Mike." 

" Come along, little one !" said Lady Clarissa, moving off. 
" Follow behind this generous gentleman, and see the palace of a 
home which your bravery has won." 

So saying, she moved on ; the obsequious knight at her side, and 
the wondering Michael Armstrong after her. 

On reaching the gate beside the gardener's house, Sir Matthew 
paused. He had been meditating, while seemingly listening in rapt 
attention to the lady's talk, on the effect which would be produced 
on the party they were about to rejoin, by the appearance of the 
ragged little companion they had brought back with them. 

Had he been a ragged sailor-boy, or a ragged plough-boy, or 
even a ragged chimney-sweeper, there might by possibility have been 
excited some feeling of curiosity and interest ; but a ragged factory- 
boy was of all created beings the one least likely to give birth to 
such emotions, among his friends and neighbours, or indeed to any 
other emotion fit to be exhibited in good society. So, merely saying- 
to his fair friend, f Excuse me, my lady, for one moment," he once 
more knocked at the cottage-window, and called aloud for " Mac- 
nab!" 

The obedient North Briton appeared immediately, and was about 
to forestal the inquiry he anticipated by assurances that her lady- 
ship's pines, peaches, and grapes, had all been consigned to the care 
of her ladyship's own serving-man, when he was very literally struck 
dumb by his master saying — 

" Macnab, take this lttle boy into the servants' hall, and tell the 
servants to take care of him — do you hear ? — and he is to have a 
bed made up for him, and — and supper, and breakfast — and all that; 
and to-morrow I will talk to Parsons about whatmustbe done for him. 



22 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Observe, Macnab, and take care, if you please, that all the servants 
about the place know it, that this boy is to be the object of the 
greatest benevolence." 

" The greatest — what was you pleased to say, sir V said the 
Scotch gardener, really and truly doubting his own ears. 

" Benevolence, sir !" shouted the knight vehemently ; " and 
woe to any one on my estate who dares to question or thwart my 
design !" 

" How inspiring is this angelic goodness," exclaimed Lady Clarissa 
affectionately. " Ah, Sir Matthew! how few there are who know 
you as I know you !" 

" Come along, my man," said the Scotchman, leading away 
Michael ; and he said no more till he was quite sure that the knight 
and the lady had got far enough in their progress across the garden, 
to be out of hearing, and then he added : " And now, my little 
fellow, tell me in God's name what all this means ? Why, you look 
for all the world like one of the little raggamuffins out of the 
factory." 

" I am one of the raggamuffins out of the factory," replied 
Michael. 

" You are ? and our master's going to make a house-pet of ye? 
Why, now, you'll be made the talk of the whole country. I should 
not have been one-half so much surprised if he had taken one of our 
sucking pigs into the drawing-room." 

" Nor I, sir," said Michael timidly, but with half a smile. 

" So, then,' you don't understand it much better than I do, it 
seems ? But what did he say it was for? He didn't take the Earl 
of Highlandloch's daughter among the infernal whirligigs, did he, 
and pick you out as a specimen to be kept in a glass case ?" 

u I hope he won't put me in a glass case, sir," said Michael, taking 
courage from the gardener's good-humour ; "but why he brought me 
here at all, I don't very well understand. The lady said it was be- 
cause I held up my hat, and cried ' Wough !' to Dame Knight's old 
cow : but of course she was only making fun." 

" At any rate, he was making no fun, for he roared like a bull- 
dog, didn't he ? So his bidding I'll do, let it mean what it will ; 
and if it brings you food and lodging, I don't suppose you'll break 
your heart for being taken out of the factory — shall you V* 

" Not if he'll take Edward out too," said the boy. 

" Edward out too ! Oh ! Lord, oh ! Lord, how many more ? 
Did he cry 'Wough !' to the cow, too ?" 

" I wish he had !" said Michael, shaking his head very myste- 
riously. 

***** 

Meanwhile Lady Clarissa and the gallant knight re-entered my 
Lady Dowling's drawing-room, amidst a perfect storm of questions, 
exclamations of admiration, wonder, fears for the lady's safety, and 
so forth. 

Miss Brotherton, who always took more liberties than any one 
else, laughed immoderately ; Lady Dowling looked the picture of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 23 

conjugal woe; and good Miss Mogg bustled forward with her 
usual amiable attention, put a footstool under the lady's misused 
white satin shoes, took Mrs. Janet Macnab's shawl off her shoulders, 
and whispered in her ear, that she was dreadfully afraid she must 
have caught cold. 

But Lady Clarissa, with a lively action of both hands at once, 
not only drove Miss Mogg back, but every one else who attempted 
to crowd round her, saying, " Give me space ! give me space, I 
entreat you ! I must have ' ample room and verge enough' to 
breathe. Such a series of adventures ! Lady Dowling, you have no 
idea ! Good heaven ! I can hardly believe it myself. I have been 
in the greatest possible danger of losing my life — a beast — a monster 
— the most terrific animal certainly that nature ever permitted on 
the earth ! You know, Mogg, I fear nothing — I have the spirit of 
my race within me. Who ever heard of a Highlandloch being afraid ? 
But I give you my honour — I pledge my nobie word to you all, that 
such a monster as that which I have escaped from this night, might 
have made the black Douglas fear !" 

" Or the Earl of Warwick either, perhaps," said Miss Brotherton, 
for she had heard Sir Matthew utter the word " cow," in answer to 
the importunate inquiries of his eldest son. 

"But what shall I say of Sir Matthew Dowling?" resumed Lady- 
Clarissa, with increased energy. " Such benevolence ! such noble, 
disinterested conduct ! — No, I cannot — I really have no strength left. 
Miss Brotherton, my dear, pray do order your carriage ; my nerves 
are in disorder, so is my dress — in short, 1 long to get home, and 
meditate in solitude on my providential escape." 

Here. Lady Clarissa found it necessary to lie down upon a sofa, 
her faithful Mogg endeavouring in vain to pull her dress over her 
slender feet and ankles, for her ladyship was restless, feverish, and 
unable to remain in the same attitude for a minute together. 

Ere long, however, the carriage of the heiress was announced, 
and the languid Lady Clarissa exerted herself to reach it, with the 
aid of Miss Mogg's substantial arm on one side, and that of Sir 
Matthew Dowling on the other. 

" Farewell, my friend !" she uttered with some effort, after taking 
her seat : " ere long I shall call upon you, and shall hope to see our 
interesting protege looking very differently from what he did when 
we parted from him. Farewell ! I do assure you I am almost 
fainting ! Do ask — will you, dear Sir Matthew ? — if the fruit, the 
pines particularly, are put in. I really think they will do me 
good, and I am sure I want it. Thank you ! thank you ! Adieu ! 



24 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER III, 

INTRODUCTION OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG INTO THE FAMILY OF 
Sill MATTHEW DOWLING CONJECTURES CONCERNING HIS PARENT- 
AGE A CONFABULATION BETWEEN SIR MATTHEW AND MR. 

JOSEPH PARSONS. 

When Mr. Macnab and his little companion entered the kitchen, 
in their way to the servants' hall, to which place of honour the 
wondering: Scotchman remembered he had been commanded to 
conduct his charge, the first person they encountered was Mr. 
Simkins, the butler, whom some accidental wish or want had led to 
enter a region but rarely honoured by the sunshine of his pre- 
sence. 

" Good morning, Macnab. What ! empty-handed ? I am afraid 
you have forgotten the little basket of peaches I desired to 
have ; and upon my word, sir, if you leave it much longer, I shall 
not consider them worth presenting to the lady for whom I desired 
to have them. Be pleased to recoliect, good Mr. Sawney, that 
when every garden-wall is hung with ripe fruit, a bottle of comfort 
will be rather too high a price for a dozen." 

, " Your discourse, Mr. Simkins, is neither civil nor discreet in any 
way,*' replied the offended North Briton : " my word, sir, is as good 
as the bank, either in England or Scotland ; and it is beneath a 
gentleman, to say nothing of your rank as a butler, Mr. Simkins, 
to suspect that I should forget it." 

" Well, well, the sooner the better, that's all. But who in God's 
name have you got here V 

" That is more than I am able to tell you, sir," replied Macnab. 
" All I know about him is a mystery. Sir Matthew, and a lady that 
was hardly born to he so free in his company, came to the garden- 
house about an hour ago, and Sir Matthew was as gay as a lark, 
and ambled and smirked ; while the Highlandloch's daughter, old 
fool ! looked as weU pleased as if she had been gallanted by the 
Duke of Argyle. Well, sir, he ordered a basket of the choicest 
and best for her ladyship, and it went against me, Mr. Simkins, 
both ways — for first it ought to choke her, seeing who she is, and 
who he is, and next I thought upon my promise to you, sir. How- 
ever, and nevertheless, Mr. Simkins, I will keep my word with you, 
if it cost me a ton of coals more in the forcing." 

" But what's all this to do with your ragged companion there? 
The child looks as if he was ready to drop. I'll bet a bottle you 
caught him thieving in the fruit-garden." 

The boy's colour rose on hearing these words. He spoke not, how- 
ever,; but his large eyes were turned up to the face of his compa- 
nion, and the fingers of his little hand pressed the hard palm that 
held them, almost convulsively. Sawney understood the appearand 
answered it : for though, like many other gentlemen, his code of 







/ / / / " / ' / 




OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 25 

honour was at some points a little loosened and enlarged, to fit and 
suit his individual circumstances, he felt the value of character as 
much as any man ; and promptly replied, in good Scotch, which 
must, however, for sundry weighty reasons, be here translated into 
English : " No, no, Mr. Butler ! no such thing, I assure you ; the 
lad's as honest as I am, for aught that I know to the contrary. But, 
to make a short story of a long one, my lady walked off up the 
lane, after borrowing a shawl from my wife, and your master with 
her, Mr. Simkins, who but he — Well, I had picked the fruit, packed 
it, and delivered it over to my lady's man, and (was just set down 
again to my seed-picking, when I heard Sir Matthew's big voice 
again halloaing to me, and when I came out, there stood the ill- 
sorted pair, arm in arm together, as before, and this ragged chap 
beside them." 

" Well ! and what then?'* ejaculated the portly butler, impa- 
tiently. " What a long-winded man you are, Macnab." 

" Hoot, man !" retorted Macnab, " if you want the story, you 
must just find patience to hear it. 'Take this boy to the servants' 
hall,' said Sir Matthew, quite upon the strut, ' and order supper and 
a bed for him.' " 

"To the servants' hall?" repeated the indignant man of bottles, 
measuring the little fellow from head to foot with an eye, which, 
notwithstanding it was small and bloodshot, was eloquent of scorn. 
"To the servants' hall 1 Sir Matthew will inflict his own company 
upon us next, I suppose. Why, look at the cotton fluff mixed with 
his hair ! He is neither more nor less than a factory-boy." 

" To'be sure he is," replied the gardener, shrugging his shoul- 
ders, " but it's no fault of mine, Mr. Simkins ; to the servants' hall I 
must take him, right or wrong. Come along, boy." 

" Stop one moment, if you please, Macnab. Let me step to Mrs. 
Thompson's room, and speak one word to her about it. Sit down, 
sit down, will you, for one moment." And away hurried Mr. 
Simkins, scattering dismay as he traversed the passages, by uttering 
as he passed along to footmen and housemaids, abigail and page, 
" Go to the kitchen, do, in God's name! go and see the company 
Sir Matthew has been ordering into the servants' hall !" 

And away they flew, one after another, eager to see the wonder ; 
so that by the time Mr. Simkins himself returned to the kitchen, 
marshalling the housekeeper before him, at least half-a-dozen ser- 
vants had assembled there, all of whom w r ere gazing at little 
Michael, very much as if he had been caught in a forest, and con- 
veyed thither to gratify their desire of studying natural history. 

" Who is that dirty little boy, Macnab ?" said the magnificent 
Mrs. Thompson, advancing to the spot where the gardener was 
seated with his frightened charge standing beside him, and all the 
lookers-on making way for her as she passed. 

"*' It is a factory-boy sent here by Sir Matthew, Mrs. Thompson," 
replied Macnab, while, forestalling, it may be, the storm likely to 
follow the intelligence, he seemed to settle himself in the arm-chair 
either to enjoy the fun, or abide the tempest. 



26 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

But he was, as it should seem, mistaken as to Mrs. Thompson's 
feelings ; for that lady, though usually considered by the subordi- 
nates as somewhat warm in temper, appeared on this occasion to 
be as mild as a lamb. 

" A factory-boy, certainly," she replied with the dignity that was 
peculiar to her, " nobody is likely to doubt that, Mr. Macnab ; one 
might know his calling at half a mile's distance. The vulgar fac- 
tory itself, with its millions of windows, is not more easily known 
than the things that crawl out of it, with their millions of cotton 
specks — that is not the main point of the question, Mr. Macnab : it 
is not what the boy is, but who he is, and for what reason any 
one has dared to say that he was to sup in the servants' hall." 

" Oh ! dear me, ma'am," replied the gardener, endeavouring to 
look very grave, " that wasn't one half of it. To you, ma'am, it's 
my duty to repeat Sir Matthew's words exact, and this is what he 
said. ' Macnab,' or * Mr. Macnab,' for he calls me both at times, 
'take this little boy,' says he, ' into the servants' hall, and tell 
every body there to take care of him — every body to take care of 
him' — that was it, Mrs. Thompson, word for word. And then he 
went on : ' He is to have a bed,' says he, ' made up on purpose for 
him, and he is to be waited upon with supper and breakfast,' and a 
great deal more, that Mr. Parsons is to make known to-morrow. 
But you have not heard all yet, ma'am," continued Macnab, raising 
his voice, on perceiving that the stately housekeeper was putting 
herself in act to speak. " Sir Matthew went on, raising his arm 
like one of his own steem-engines, ' Observe, Mr. Macnab,' says he, 
' and take care that all the servants, little and great, know it, that 
this boy is to be the object of the greatest benevolence/ That's 
something new for you, Mrs. Thompson, isn't it?" 

" Sir Matthew may settle about his benevolence with himself, 
when he is in his own pew at church," replied Mrs. Thompson, with 
a very satirical sort of smile ; "but most certainly it shall not be 
brought to dirty my premises ; so let me hear no more about it, gar- 
dener, if you please." And with these words, she turned haughtily 
away. 

" But, ma'am — Mrs. Thompson, you had better stop if you please, 
for go I must, if that's your answer, and tell Sir Matthew of it." 

If Mr. Macnab had been a blacksmith instead of a gardener, he 
might have been less surprised at the phenomena which followed 
these words ; for he would have known that white heat is stronger 
than red heat, though it does not look so fierce. He had fancied 
the housekeeper particularly calm and placable upon this occasion, 
because, forsooth, she looked rather pale than red when she entered 
the kitchen ; but no sooner had he uttered this threat of reporting 
her words to Sir Matthew, than the fact of her being in an exceed- 
ingly terrible rage became evident. Notwithstanding the usual 
dignified gentility of her manner, on which, indeed, when more self- 
possessed, she greatly prided herself, she clenched her fists, raised 
her arms on high, and from one of the most imposing housekeepers 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 2j 

in the British dominions, suddenly assumed the aspect of an in- 
spired fury. 

" Tell ! — You ? — Sir Matthew ? — Blackguard ! scoundrel ! — 
base-born spinning' spider! — I, that have lived with the Duke of 
Clarington !" 

" Tis two, too bad, and that's the fact I" exclaimed my Lady 
Dowling's own footman, who always sided with the principal person 
in company, which gave him very much the air of being a superior 
person himself; " and if I was Mrs. Thompson, I'd throw my salary 
in the vulgar fellow's face, before I'd bear to have a factory-boy 
pushed into my company." 

" And so I will, Mr. Jennings, you may depend upon it," replied 
the incensed prime ministeress, somewhat softened : " so now, Mr. 
Macnab, you may just take yourself off, and leave the brat in the 
kitchen, or take him away with you, as you like best." 

" I have done my share of the benevolent job, so I will wish you 
good night, Mrs. Thompson ; and whether this little fellow eats his 
supper and breakfast in the kitchen or the hall, it will be much the 
same to him, I fancy." So saying, the gardener rose, and giving a 
sort of general nod to the company, left the kitchen. 

Considering that there had been nothing very affectionate in the 
nature of the intercourse which had taken place between them, it 
was rather singular that the little Michael should feel as sorry as he 
did at the departure of Mr. Macnab. But he did feel sorry, and 
when the door shut after him, he turned away, and hid his face with 
his uplifted arm. 

Pride of place, and elevation of character, having been in a con- 
siderable degree satisfied by Mrs. Thompson's energetic expression 
of her feelings, something like curiosity awoke within her to learn 
what the circumstances had been which had induced Sir Matthew 
Dowling to declare an intention of acting benevolently. For a 
moment she struggled against it, and again seemed about to leave 
the room ; but as she turned her eyes upon the child, she seemed 
to feel that before one so very abject, no loss of importance could be 
feared, even if she did question him. So, with the air of a judge 
walking up to the bench, she stalked onwards to the seat Mr. Mac- 
nab had left, and placing her austere person in it, made a signal 
with her hand, that the kitchen-maid who had ventured to approach 
the little boy should stand back, and leave her space to examine 
him. 

On one side of this space stood the lordly butler, with his arms 
folded, and a look of scorn upon his countenance that seemed to 
question the propriety of the measure Mrs. Thompson had thought 
proper to adopt. On the other was the courtly Jennings, with an 
arm resting upon her chair, as if to give evidence that he was near 
at hand to support her. An extremely fat and very professional- 
looking cook came next, while my lady's own maid, with all the 
elegant superiority of attire which marks the station, held a scent- 
bottle to her nose, that the curiosity which led her to be a witness 



28 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

of this extraordinary scene, might be punished with as little suffer- 
ing as possible. Two sprightly housemaids seemed to find some- 
thing vastly amusing in the whole business, though their evident 
merriment was restrained by the solemnity of Mrs. Thompson's 
manner. 

" Look up in my face, little boy," said the housekeeper, as soon 
as she had seated herself and saw that those around her stood still, 
as if they had taken their places, and were prepared to listen. 

Michael did not move ; he was probably ashamed to show that 
he was weeping, before the face of a lady who spoke so very 
grandly. 

The kitchen-maid gave him a nudge, but a gentle one, whisper- 
ing at the same time — " Look up, my boy. What be you 'feard of? 
There's nobody as wants to hurt you here." 

Thus encouraged, Michael let his arm drop by his side, and dis- 
covered a face that was indeed sallow, and by no means very 
plump, but with features and expression which, whatever Sir Mat- 
thew Dowling's men and maids might think of it, might have suf- 
ficed to make the fortune of an able painter. 

"Whose child are you?" demanded the housekeeper. "Mo- 
ther's," replied the boy. 

" I suspected as much," rejoined the inquisitor, half aside to Mr. 
Jennings. 

u And I beant no ways surprised to hear it, I promise you," he 
replied. 

Mrs. Thompson sighed deeply. " It is dreadful !" said she. 
Then, after taking a moment to recover herself, she resumed, " And 
where does the unhappy person live ?" 

" Please, ma'am, who?" said the puzzled boy. 

f< The — your mother, child. — Shame upon you for forcing me to 
name her !" 

Michael gave a little shake of the head, which seemed to the 
merciful kitchen-maid to say, that he did not know what the great 
lady meant ; but he presently replied, as if discreetly determined to 
mind only what he did understand, " Mother lives in Hoxley Lane, 
ma'am." 

" The most deplorable situation in the whole parish ! inhabited 
only by the very lowest !" observed the housekeeper, with another 
indignant sigh. 

" So much the worse for she," muttered the kitchen-maid ; but 
not loud enough to be heard by her in whose hands rested the 
appointment of kitchen-maids as well as cooks. 

" And why does such as you come here?" resumed the house- 
keeper. 

" Because the squire ordered t'other man to bring me," answered 
Michael. 

" I suspect that the boy is a natural fool," observed Mrs. 
Thompson, addressing the butler. " It is a sure fact, and a great 
dispensation — bad parents have almost always children out of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 29 

shape, both mind and body. You may take my word for that, all 
of you," she added, looking round her; " and you will do well to 
teach it to your children after you." 

" I'll be burnt if I don't think it very likely that it was his own 
father sent him here, and no one else," said Mr. Jennings, chuckling. 

"Fie! Jennings, fie!" returned Mrs. Thompson, with a frown. 
" God in heaven only knows what may have been the cause of it ! 
— Not but what it does look strange, there's no denying that." 

" Do you know any thing about your father, child ?" said Mr. 
Simkins in a magisterial tone. 

" Father's in heaven," replied the child. 

" Mercy on me ! do you hear him ? Is not that like mocking 
the Lord's prayer ?" exclaimed the lady's-maid. 

" No, it is not !" said Michael, while a flash of youthful indigna- 
tion rushed into his face. " My father is in heaven along with God." 

", I dare say he means that his father is dead," observed the 
butler with an air of great sagacity ; " and if what has been jealoused 
at is correct," he added, winking his eye at Mr. Jennings, " it is 
very natural that he should have been told to say so." 

M That's very true," said the housekeeper, " and it may be, 
certainly, that the child knows nothing about it whatever, either one 
way or t'other — indeed I think it's a good deal the most likely that 
he does not; — but, any how, it's a very shocking business, and, as 
far as 1 am concerned, I'll neither make nor meddle in the 
matter. — Of course, the men-servants may do just as they like about 
taking notice of him — for here he is, and here he will bide, I dare say ; 
but 1 recommend the maids to follow my example, and not to injure 
their characters, nor to corrupt their morals by having any thing to do 

with the offspring of It is more decent not to finish what I was 

going to say for your goods, young women, — and lucky it is that 
there is no need. You must all understand me without it." 

Mrs. Thompson then rose from her chair, and turning her eyes, 
and indeed her head, aside, to prevent herself from again seeing 
Michael, she walked with a degree of stateliness and majesty that 
few housekeepers ever attained, through the kitchen, along the 
passage, across the servants' hall, into the sacred shelter of her own 
parlour, where she gave way to emotions which rendered a glass of 
prime London Madeira absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile Michael remained in no very happy condition in the 
kitchen. He was very tired, very sleepy, very thirsty, very much 
longing to see his mother and brother, and very greatly puzzled 
as to himself. 

But though accounted to be a brave little fellow for his age, he 
could not muster courage enough to ask any questions of those 
around him, and if he had, it would have been of no avail ; for the 
very moment Mrs. Thompson was out of sight, so many of the 
servants began talking together, that no sounds his voice could 
produce would have been heard. 

Jokes and gibes about Sir Matthew, mingled with ridiculous 
anecdotes, and very cordial abuse of him and all his race, furnished 



30 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the first subject, and filled the first chorus. Then followed some 
facetious observations from Mr. Jennings concerning Mrs. Thomp- 
son, and a few of her peculiarities ; and it was in the midst of the 
giggling which these occasioned, that the kitchen-maid ventured 
to say — 

" Well, now, you are all so keen, and so clever about her, that I 
wonder it don't come into your heads to find out that she spoke 
just like an old fool and no better, when she invented all that rig- 
marole about the boy. Master might be just the devil you says he 
is, and ten times worser too, for any thing I know about him ; but 
the worser he is, the farther I'd be, if I was such a mighty good 
gentlewoman as she thinks herself, from giving such a bad father 
out of my own invention to any body — whether they corned out of 
the factory or not." 

" I do think Molly's right," said one of the housemaids. — " What 
business has the old frump to find a father for him ? Nobody asked 
her." 

" That may be all very true, Rebecca/' observed the lady's-maid, 
shaking her head very gravely. " I know well enough, that Mrs. 
Thompson does not always wait for right and reason before she 
speaks — but that makes no difference as to our having any fami- 
liarity with this dirty little boy ; for it certainly does appear plain 
enough, that his mother is very little better than she ought to be." 

" Lord bless us ! and how much better be you than you ought to 
be, I should like to know V said the fat cook, who had her own 
reasons for not t being at all partial to Mrs. Wittington, her ladyship's 
waiting-maid. 

" I ! — You miserable lump of kitchen- stuff, that no man in his 
senses would ever deign to look upon twice ! Do you dare to say 
that I'm no better than I ought to be ?" 

Now the cook was an Irishwoman ; and though she had famous 
black eyes, and teeth like an elephant, her principal claim to the 
coveted attentions of the other sex (setting aside the attractions 
which it is but fair to presume her profession gave her), arose from 
the ready sauciness of her tongue, which, in a brogue as strong as 
that of the Scotch gardener, and equally dangerous for the untaught 
to meddle with, was wont to rattle about her, right and left, some- 
times scolding, but oftener making sport of all who crossed her 
humour. 

Now this virtuous outbreak of Mrs. Wittington, was too fair an 
opportunity to be lost ; and accordingly, putting on as demure a look 
as her wicked eyes would let her, she replied, " You be better than 
you ought to be, be you ? Well now, that's a trouble for your con- 
scious, isn't it ? — Is there nobody as can help her out of it ? — -Think 
what it is, gentlemen, to be so burdened, and she, poor soul, un- 
able to confess to a priest, seeing she's a heretic ! — Oh ! she's better 
than she ought to be ! and you've her own word for it too, and 
that's the reason you see why she's obliged, whether she will or no, 
to turn her back on this poor little fellow, just because he's father- 
less. Isn't that a sore strait for a young lady's conscious ? — Praise 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 31 

and glory to the Holy Virgin, and all the company of saints, now 
and for ever more, that I beant one bit better than I ought to be, 
and I hope you beant neither, Molly ; and so just run to the larder, 
will you, girl, and bring out something for supper, fit for a hungry 
little boy, that havn't the misfortune to be so burdened in mind as 
pretty Mrs. Wittington. — Oh ! the poor soul ! she's better than she 
ought to be !" 

Molly, the kitchen-maid, did not waitjfora second order ; and if a 
capital dish of cold cutlets could have set little Michael's heart at 
rest, he might then have been a very happy fellow ; but, in truth, he 
was longing for his own porridge, by his own mother's bedside; and 
except from the relief afforded by a copious draught of milk, he went 
to the bed prepared for him by his friend, the kitchen-maid, so little 
elated in spirit, and so little thankful for the extraordinary change 
which had befallen him, that, had his noble patroness been made 
aware of it, she would, beyond all doubt, have punished his ingra- 
titude, by requesting Sir Matthew to turn him out of doors again ; 
and, moreover, have for ever abandoned the generous idea of sur- 
rounding his young head, as she poetically expressed it, with a halo 
of immortality, by means of getting Mr. Osmund Norval to relate 
his adventure in verse. 

Sir Matthew Dowling went to his bed also, hardly better 
pleased with what had occurred than little Michael. But there 
was this difference between them : little Michael said his prayers, 
which the great Sir Matthew did not ; but, on the contrary, spent his 
last waking moment in cursing, with great fervour of spirit, the 
folly of the hideous old maid, who had entailed such a detestable 
burden upon him — the result of which, as a peace-offering to the 
whole body of operatives, was at any rate but problematical . 

Nevertheless, when he awoke the next morning with his head 
quite cool, he felt disposed to think more of the hint given him by 
his friend and favourite Dr. Crockley, and less of the inconvenience 
of having a few pounds to pay out of hundreds of thousands for a 
job, which, if well managed, might help, perhaps, to avert a monstrous 
deal of mischief. 

With these rational thoughts working strongly in his ever-active 
brain, he rang his bell, and ordered that Joseph Parsons, his prin- 
cipal overlooker, should be sent for instantly, and shown into his 
study. 

A short half-hour brought the master and man to a tete-a-tcte in 
the snug little apartment described in the first chapter. 

" Good morning, Parsons," said Sir Matthew. 

The overlooker bowed his head respectfully. 

" Have you heard any thing of this meeting at the Weavers' Arms, 
Parsons ?" inquired Sir Matthew. 

" As much as a man was likely to'hear, Sir Matthew, who, as you 
will easily believe, was not intended to hear any thing," replied the 
confidential servant. 

"And how much was that, Parsons? Sit down, Parsons — sit 
down, and let us hear all about it." 



32 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" I was a coming, sir, if you hadn't a sent for me," rejoined the 
overlooker ; «' for to say truth, my mind misgives me, that there's 
mischief brewing." 

" I have heard as much," said the master; '« but it can hardly 
have gone very far yet, if such a sharp-sighted fellow as you only 
suspect." 

"That's true, sir," said the man, with a grim smile, in acknow- 
ledgment of the compliment; " and I've not been idle, I promise 
you. But all T know for certain is, that the people, old and young, 
our own people I mean, have, one and all, taken dudgeon about that 
girl Stephens, that died the week before last, just after leaving the 
mill. She had been at work all day in the spinning-mill, and who 
was to guess that she was that low ?" 

" It was a d — d stupid thing though, Parsons, to have a girl go on 
working, and not know whether she was dying or not." 

'* And how is one to know, sir ? I'll defy any man to find out, 
what with their tricks, and what with their real faintings." 

if You won't tell me, Parsons, that if you set your wits to work, 
you can't tell whether they are shamming or not?" 

" That's not the question, Sir Matthew, asking your pardon. 
There's no great difficulty in finding out whether they are in a real 
faint, or only making the most of being a little sickish from stand- 
ing, and want of air. That's not the difficulty. The thing is to 
know, when they really take to the downright faintings, whether 
they are likely to live through it or not." 

"And where is the great difficulty of that? You know Dr. 
Crockley would come at a moment's warning at any time, and feel 
their pulses." 

" And he does do it, sir. But, in the first place, I doubt if any 
man can justly tell whether girls are likely to go on fainting, and 
up again, as lots and lots of 'em do for years, or drop down and 
die, as Nancy Stephens did. That's one thing; and another is, 
that Dr. Crockley is so fond of a joke, that 'tis rarely one knows 
when he speaks earnest, and when he does not. He did see Nancy 
Stephens, about a month ago, and all he said was, * she do look 
a little pale in the gills, to be sure, but a dance would cure her, I 
have no doubt.' A dance! says I, doctor. And please to tell me, 
says I, how the work is to get on, if the factory boys and girls sets 
off dancing?" 

" ' Maybe you haven't got a fiddle V " said he. 

" Maybe I haven't," said I. 

" * Well, then,' says he, ' if it don't suit you to let them dance to 
the fiddle, I'll bet ten to one you'll be after making 'em dance to 
the strap.' And with that, if you'll believe me, sir, he set off caper- 
ing, and making antics, just as if there had been somebody behind 
a-strapping him. To be sure, it was fit to make one die of laughing 
to see him ; but that's not the way you know, sir, to do one any 
good as to finding out the real condition of the people." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 33 

Sir Matthew could not resist a hearty laugh at this characteristic 
trait of his friend, but he concluded by acknowledging that Parsons 
was quite right in saying that this way of doing business was more 
agreeable than useful. 

" However, Parsons," he continued, " we must not talk about 
that now, for I have something else to say to you. It is quite plain 
that they are getting again to their grumblings; and Crockley, 
who you know is up to every thing, says that he'll bet his life 
they have got some new mischief into their cursed heads. 
Now this must be prevented, Parsons, some way or other; for any 
harm they can do the machinery, is not the worst of it. — Tis the 
rousing up people's attention again, Parsons, there's the danger. — 
Just see what they've done about the blackamoor slaves, by going 
on boring for everlasting, ding-dong, ding-dong, till they actually 
got the thing done at last. Now the Philadelphy people and the 
Boston people are just playing the very same game t'other side the 
water; and when they have got their way, where will their national 
wealth be I should like to know ? — And where will our national 
wealth be, when these rascals hg]^, contrived to stop the mills in- 
stead of working them ?" of the 

" Lord have mercy upon us ! Sir Matthew ; — if you don't make 
me creep all over to hear you !" exclaimed Parsons. " 'Tis a pity, 
sir, and often's the time I have said it, that you arn't in parliament 
yourself — you'd pretty soon show 'em what their meddling with fac- 
tories would do for the country." 

" 'Tis likely I might, Parsons; but a man can't be in two places 
at once — and depend upon it, there's good to be done here, if we 
knew how to set about it. I shall make you stare, perhaps, Mr. 
Parsons, when I tell you what I am about now. It came into my 
head by accident at first ; but if I don't greatly mistake, I'll make 
a capital thing of it before I have done." 

" There's no doubt of that, Sir Matthew, if you sets your mind 
to it, let it be what it will," replied the confidential overlooker ; 
" and if it isn't a secret, sir, I should like uncommon much to hear 
it." 

" No, it's no secret, Parsons — any thing in the world but that," 
replied Sir Matthew, laughing. " What should you say now, Mr. 
Superintendent, to my taking a dirty little dog of a piecer out of 
the factory into my own house, and dressing him, and feeding him, 
and lodging him, all for the love of pure benevolence, and little 
boys ?" 

" I don't quite understand you, sir," replied Mr. Joseph Parsons, 
looking very grave. 

" No, I dare say you don't. But I think I do, Parsons, and 
that's more to the purpose. Trust me, man, it will do good if it's 
only by giving the people something to talk of just now, besides 
this confounded girl's death. And now, my good fellow, tell me all 
you know of a boy called Michael Armstrong, for he you must un- 
derstand, is the hero of my tale." 

*' That's the boy, is it ? — Then that's why the chap didn't come 

D 



34 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to work this morning," replied Mr. Parsons ; "I knows him well 
enough, Sir Matthew, in course ; for he's going on for eight or nine, 
and he corned to the factory just about five." 

" And what sort of a boy is he, Parsons V 

" Nothing very particular, Sir Matthew, unless it is because of 
the unaccountable fuss he makes about his elder brother, who is 
but a poor rickety, shriveldy sort of a child. For some reason or 
other, his bones never seemed to come rightly straight, and this 
Mike makes as great a fuss about him, as if he was his grand- 
mother," 

"Are the parents living?" inquired Sir Matthew. 

" The mother is. She is a bedridden woman, and ought to be 
in the workhouse ; but she's upish, and can't abide it, and so she 
lies abed, doing plain work and that, and the two boys' wages main- 
tains 'em. But I did hear t'other day, she had given in, and 
was a begging to go into the house, and take the eldest boy with her. 
These creturs never know what they would be at. I suspect, how- 
somever, that she has got hold of a notion, that because he's so 
cripply, he beant to work no more ; but I shall take care to see 
Butchel, the parish-overseer, about it. It is altogether a trick that, 
what won't answer — his fingers is just as able to handle the reels, 
and piece the threads as ever they was ; and in course, a little dwarf 
like him, with his legs like crooked drumsticks, can't look for any 
but the youngest wages ; so after all, he's one of them as answers 
best." 

" No ! Parsons, no ! ejaculated Sir Matthew with sudden energy. 
That woman must not go into the workhouse. The whole thing 
shall be got up, I tell you, in the best possible style. What d'ye 
say now to getting the woman arrested for debt ? — or having all her 
things sold ? — and we just stepping in at the very nick of time, to 
save her from destruction !" 

There was something so truly comic in the expression of the 
knight's countenance, as he said this, that even the saturnine Mr. 
Parsons could not help laughing. 

" If the born devils don't sing your praises through the country, 
sir," said he, as soon as he had recovered his gravity, " why we must 
find some other way to go to work with them." 

" Now then be off, Parsons, and contrive some clever scheme or 
other to throw the unhappy family into a quandary." 

" I understand, sir," said Parsons, nodding his head, and so 
parted the master and the man. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 35 



CHAPTER IV. 

A LITTLE COTTAGE GOSSIP A VISIT OF CHARITY PRACTICAL 

BENEVOLENCE. 

The promptitude of the measures taken by Mr. Joseph Parsons, 
to bring to effect the wishes of his master, showed him to be de- 
serving the post of confidence he held, as principal superintendent 
of Sir Matthew Dowling's factory. He lost not a moment in ob- 
taining a short interview with one of the parish-officers, who was his 
particular friend, and then made his way to Hoxley-lane, with the 
intention of questioning the widowed mother of the two Arm- 
strongs, as to the situation of her affairs, and the particular species 
of misery from which she might, at that precise moment, be suffer- 
ing the most. 

The statement pronounced in Sir Matthew's kitchen respecting 
the general eligibility of Hoxley-lane as a place of residence, was 
perfectly correct. It was the most deplorable hole in the parish — a 
narrow, deep-rutted parish-road (too hopelessly bad to be indicted), 
led from the turnpike down a steep hill to the town of Ashleigh. 
Exactly at the bottom of the hill, just at the point where every 
summer storm and winter torrent deposited their gatherings, there 
to remain and be absorbed as they might, began a long, closely- 
packed double row of miserable dwellings, crowded to excess by 
the population drawn together by the neighbouring factories. There 
was a squalid, untrimmed look about them all, that spoke fully as 
much of want of care, as of want of cash in the unthrifty tribe 
who dwelt there. It was like the moral delinquencies of a corporate 
body, of which no man is ashamed, because no man can be pointed 
at as the guilty one. It was not the business of No. 1 to look 
after the filth accumulated in front of No. 2 ; and the inhabitants 
of No. 3, saw no use in mending the gate that swung on one hinge, 
because No. 4 had no gate at all ; and the dogs and the pigs who 
made good their entry there, of course found their way easy 
enough through the make-believe hedge, which throughout the 
row divided one tenement from another. The very vilest rags were 
hanging before most of the doors, as demonstration that washing of 
garments was occasionally resorted to within. Crawling infants, 
half-starved cats, mangy curs, and fowls that looked as if each 
particular feather had been used as a scavenger's broom, shared the 
dust and the sunshine between them, while an odour, which seemed 
compounded of a multitude of villanous smells, all reeking toge- 
ther into one, floated over them, driving the pure untainted air of 
heaven aloft, far beyond the reach of any human lungs abiding in 
Hoxley-lane. 

" Where does widow Armstrong live V* demanded Mr. Parsons 
of a woman who was whipping a child for tumbling in the dung- 
hill before No. 5. 

d 2 



36 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

"In the back kitchen of No. 12, please your honour," replied 
the woman, making a low reverence to the well-known superin- 
tendent. 

" No. 12 ! — why that's Sykes's tenement — and they're on the 
ground-floor themselves." 

" Yes, please your honour ; but since the rents have been raised 
by Sir Matthew, the Sykes's have been obliged to let off the back- 
kitchen, and live in the front one." 

" Why there's a matter of a dozen of 'em, isn't there?" 
" Yes, your honour, they lies terrible close." 
'* Obstinate dolt-heads ! — That's just because they pretend to 
fancy that it is not good for the small children to work — I know, 
for certain, that they have got two above five years, that they won't 
send to the factory ; and then they have the outdaciousness to com- 
plain that the rents are raised — as if because they are above choosing 
to earn money in an honest way, Sir Matthew was not to make what 
he could of his own. Tis disgusting to see such airs, where people 
ought to be thankful and happy to get work." 

" That's quite true, no doubt, sir," answered the woman, con- 
tinuing to shake, and occasionally to slap the grub of a child she 
had taken off the dunghill. " But Robert Sykes's children are 
very weakly ; and them as your honour talks of, is almost too small 
— though 'tisn't to be doubted that it is the bounden duty of us all 
to send 'em, sooner than see 'em starve.*' 

" I fancy so, indeed," replied Mr. Parsons ; adding, with a finger 
pointed at the squalling child, who still continued under the cleans- 
ing process above described, " And isn't it a comfort now, Mrs. 
Miller, to get rid of the plague of 'em ?" 

The woman ceased to shake her little boy, and looking for a mo- 
ment at the clear blue eyes that, notwithstanding her rough disci- 
pline, were very lovingly turned up to her face — something like a 
shudder passed over her. 

" Get along in with you, Bill," said she, as if afraid that the 
blighting glance of the superintendent should rest upon him ; and 
then added, " as long as they be so very small, your honour, they 
can't do no good if they be sent." 

" Stuff and nonsense ! there's ways to teach 'em. But don't 
fancy that I want you to send your brats — confound 'em ! They're 
the greatest plagues in natur ; and nothing on God's earth but 
good-heartedness and love of his country would ever make Sir 
Matthew, for one, trouble himself or his men with any of the creturs. 
—No. 12, is it, where I shall find the widow Armstrong ?" 

" Yes, please your honour — you'll be sure to find her. She's a 
cripple pour soul, and can't stir." 

" She's made up her mind to go into the workhouse, hasn't she V 9 
demanded the manager. 

"Have she indeed, poor thing?" responded the woman, in an 
accent of compassion. 

" I heard so, as I come along, and that's the reason I'm going to 
her. Our good Sir Matthew, who to be sure is the kindest-hearted 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 37 

man in the whole world, has taken a fancy to her boy, and he'll be 
a father to him, I'll be bound to say he will ; and that's why 1 think 
he'd like me to give her a call, just to tell her not to fret herself 
about the workhouse. If she don't like going there, she needn't, I 
dare say, with such a good friend as she's got." 

The woman stared at him with an air of such genuine astonish- 
ment, that the superintendent felt disconcerted, and turning abruptly 
away, continued his progress down the lane. 

By the time he had reached No. 12, however, he had begun to 
doubt whether his sudden appearance at the bedside of the widow 
Armstrong might not produce an effect unfavourable to the object 
he had in view. 

" As sure as steam's steam," thought he, " she'll be more 
inclined to fancy that I am come scolding about the. boys for some- 
thing, than to take her part, or do her pleasure ; so I'll just say a civil 
word to the Sykeses, and then stroll away on, till such time as the 
parish officers have been after her. I'll engage for it, that Sam 
Butchel won't let no grass grow under his feet after what I said to 
him ; and if I turn in when he's there, as if to see what was going 
on, it would certainly be more natural-like, and believable." 

In accordance with this improved projet de charite, Mr. Joseph 
Parsons walked on ; but he had not proceeded far ere, on turning 
his head round to reconnoitre, he perceived, not the tali and burly 
Sam Butchel, the overseer of the parish, but the lean and lathy 
person of little Michael, advancing with an eager and rapid step 
towards his mother's dwelling. 

"Soh!" ejaculated the sagacious Parsons, "here comes the 
charity job ! It would be worth a week's wages to hear him tell his 
own story." 

Mr. Joseph Parsons had a Napoleon-like promptitude of action, 
which the unlearned operatives described by calling him " a word- 
and-a-blow man," but which in reality often deserved the higher 
epithet above bestowed. 

Scarcely had the thought of overhearing little Michael's tale sug- 
gested itself, ere a sidelong movement ensconced him for a moment 
behind a favouring pig-sty, from whence, unseen, he watched the 
boy enter the door of No. 12. 

Again Napoleon-like, he remembered all he had heard from her 
neighbour, concerning the position of the widow's dwelling-place ; 
and rightly judging that Sykes's back-kitchen must, in some way 
or other, be in a condition to favour the emission of sound, he 
troubled not the household by making his approaches through the 
principal entrance, but striding over the inefficient fence of the tiny 
cabbage-plot behind, obtained a station as favourable to his pur- 
pose, as he could possibly desire. This was a nook between a pro- 
tuberance intended for an oven, and the window close beside the 
widow Armstrong's bed, from whence prophetic fate, favouring the 
yet latent purpose of the manager, had caused three panes to be ex- 
tracted by a volley of pebbles, intended for mother Sykes's cat, at 
least two months before. 



38 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

To this safe and commodious crouching-place, he made his way 
just in time to hear the widow say, " Understand one word of 
Edward's story, Mike; so sit down dear boy, and tell me all." 

" Why mother, 'tis like a story-book — and it's very fine to be sure 
— but yet — " And the boy stopped short. 

"But yet you don't like it, Mike?" rejoined his mother. 
" That's what you was going to say. Tell the" truth, my child, 
and don't go to keep nothing from me." 

"That was it," said Mike. 

61 Ungrateful viper !" muttered the confidential superintendent 
between his closed teeth. 

"Poor fellow! poor dear Michael!" exclaimed the woman, 
soothingly. " It was hard to go to sleep without kissing mother, 
wasn't it?" 

" Yes, I didn't like that — nor I didn't like being without Teddy 
neither — and I didn't like the grumpy old lady as corned into the 
kitchen, and abused me ; nor the gentlemen servants either, except 
the gardener, and he took hold of my hand, and led me along kind 
enough — and I like Molly too, that's she as give me my supper and 
my bed, and my breakfast this morning, mother. Oh, mother! 
how I did long to bring away some of the milk and bread and 
butter home with me!" 

" Never think of such a thing, for your life, boy !" exclaimed the 
mother eagerly. " It would be thieving, nothing else, Michael — 
nothing more nor less than thieving—never mention that again to 
me, dear, that's a darling." 

" I won't, mother ; but I know I shall think of it every time I see 
them big pounds of butter, and jugs of milk, and minds how care- 
ful you be over your little scrimped bit in the broken saucer, and 
how you drinks your drop of tea without ever having any milk at 
all." 

" Never you mind that, darling. But what are they going to do 
with you, Mike ? And what for do they want to have you up at 
the great house ? 'Tis, a mystery to me, and thankful as we ought 
to be for any help, I can't say but I should be easier in my mind, 
if I understood something about it." 

" Impertinent hag !" growled the surly Parsons from his lair. 
" Does she think they are going to trap him like a rabbit, for the 
sake of his skin ?" 

" But, mother, I don't understand any thing about it myself," 
said Michael, rather dolefully. 

To this avowal, no reply was made for some minutes; upon 
which the superintendent grew impatient, and stretching forward 
his neck a little, contrived athwart the sheltering branches of an 
elder-bush, to peep through the broken window. 

To the agent of Sir Matthew Dowling's benevolence the sight that 
presented itself was really revolting; though there may be others 
who would have been affected differently by it. Michael had flung 
himself across the bed ; his arms were thrown round his mother, who 
was sitting upright with some piece of needlework in her hands, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 39 

and his dark curls set off in strong contrast the extreme paleness of 
the face that looked down upon him. The widow Armstrong was 
still rather a young woman, and would still have been a very lovely 
one, had not sickness and poor living sharpened the delicate fea- 
tures, and destroyed the oval outline that nature had made perfect. 
Yet she had quite enough of beauty left to detain the eye ; and 
such a history of patient suffering might be read in every line of her 
speaking countenance, that few ever looked upon her harshly. 
Spite of her extreme poverty too, she was clean — her cap was clean, 
the bedclothes were clean, and the pale hands too, looked so very 
white, that if Mr. Parsons from his hiding-place had ventured to 
speak any opinion concerning her, he would certainly'Jiave given utter- 
ance to a strong expression of indignation, at the abominable air of 
delicacy which her appearance displayed. 

She looked as if she were struggling with some painful feeling, 
but did not weep, though her boy did, heartily. 

For a little while she suffered his tears to flow without interrup- 
tion or reproof, and then she kissed him once, twice, thrice. 

" There now, Michael," she said, looking at him fondly ; " have 
you not played baby long enough? Stand up, darling, and listen 
to me. You don't seem over-glad, Mike, of this great change, and 
if you did, perhaps I might have been over-sorry ; but sorrow 
would be sin for either of us, when God has sent us help. Tis you 
that be the heartiest Mike, and 'tis you that want food the most, 
growing at the rate you do, and heart-sore have I been at meal- 
times to see you so stinted. So never let us trouble ourselves 
any more about the reasons for your getting so into favour, but 
just thank God, and be contented." 

" But mother ! How will you get on without me V replied 
Michael, shaking his head; "I am sure that Teddy can't make 
your bed as I do — he hasn't the strength in his arms. And who's 
to fetch water? 'Deed and 'deed mother, you'd better thank Sir 
Matthew, and say no, unless he'll just please to let Teddy go 
instead." 

" That won't do my dear child, in anyway. 'Tis I must watch 
poor Edward. Little as I can do for him, I don't think he'd like to 
part from me, as long as God is pleased to let me stay." 

" That's true mother — that's very true ! Teddy would break his 
heart. No, no, 'tisn't he shall be parted from you ; I'll show him 
how to make the bed, if I can't come over myself; but perhaps 
they'll let me, mother ?" 

" What's the business that you'll have to do, Michael ?" inquired 
the widow. 

" I haven't been told of any business yet," replied the boy. 

'* But you don't expect that you're going to be kept for nothing, 
clear ?" said the mother, smiling. 

" 'Tisn't for my work, mother ; 'tis for the cow," replied Michael, 
gravely. 

" The cow, child ? What is it you and Teddy have got into your 
heads about a cow ? A poor starved beast, he says it was, that 



40 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

wouldn't have frightened a mouse, and you made it turn round, 
Mike — that's all I can make out. But he must be mistaken 
surely. What was it you did about the cow, darling;?" 

At this question, the boy burst into a hearty fit of laughter, 
which to say truth, offended the listening ears of Mr. Joseph Par- 
sons, still more than his weeping had done. 

" I'll do his business for him, he. may depend upon it," thought 
he. " If master must have a charity job, he must ; but it don't fol- 
low that the cretur shan't be made to know himself just as well as if 
he was in the factory. I'll be your overlooker yet, master Mike." 

Just as this prophetic sketching of the future had made itself 
distinctly visible to his mind's eye, the bodily senses of the agent 
announced to him that the tranquil tete-a-tete within the widow's 
chamber was disturbed by the entrance of persons, whose voice and 
step announced that they were men. Mr. Parsons was at no loss 
to guess their errand. "Here they cornel" muttered he. "Now 
we'll see how Master Butchel manages his job. 

" We be commed to see," said a gruff voice within the widow's 
chamber, " whether or no you be commed to your senses, Mrs. 
Armstrong." 

" Sir?" said the trembling woman in return. 

" You knows well enough what I means, without my going into 
it again ; you knows well enough as I comes to talk to ye about 
the house again. We've had Larkins the baker, coming to inquire 
if there's parish pay to look to, for your bill, Mrs. Armstrong — and 
I have told him, no, not a farthing, not the quarter of a farthing, 
unless you'll come into the house. The parish have gone on allow- 
ing you two shilling a week, week after week, God knows how long 
— 'tis a perfect shame and imposition, and the board says they won't 
do it no longer. You and the boys too may come in if you will, 
that's one thing; but living here, cramming 'em with as much 
wheaten bread as they'll eat without paying for it, is another, and 
it's what no honest parish don't tolerate. I'll be bound to say now, 
as you have brought up the scamps without their ever knowing the 
taste of gruel ? Tell the truth, did you ever take the trouble to 
make a drop of gruel for 'era ?" 

" As long as I had my legs to stand upon, sir, I never minded 
trouble ; and, when my husband was living, we did a deal better, 
and 1 have done cooking for 'em then, such as a few potatoes and a 
cabbage, may be, with a scrap of bacon on a Sunday ; but, from 
the hour he died, we have never had a pot upon the fire." 

" That's what 'tis to be so obstinate. If you'd come into the 
house you'd see the pot upon the fire all day long, a'most." 

" But the children would be in one room, after they came from 
the factory, and I should be in another," pleaded the widow, " and 
I've got a few of the decent things as I married with, when I came 
from service, and it would be a grief tome to see 'em all §pld." 

"If the parish don't sell 'em, Larkins the baker will, you may 
take my word for that, Mrs. Armstrong," replied the overseer. 
" However, 'tis your business, not mine. Here's a decent, respect- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 41 

able man, as is ready to take all you've got at a valiation, fair and 
honourable, but that's just as you please. I only called, as in duty 
bound, to tell ye that the parish don't mean to continy no such ex- 
travagance as paying you two shilling a week, no longer." 

" God help me !" answered the widow gently. " If 'tis his will 
that so it should be, it would be a sin for me to complain." 

" That's vastly fine, beant it*?" said the brutal Butchel, " and 
now let's hear what you'll be after saying to Master Larkins, for 
here he comes, as sure as eggs be eggs." 

An abrupt, and most peremptory demand, for three pounds two 
shillings and seven pence, was here made, by a sour-looking little 
man, who entered the small room without ceremony, making a group 
of intruders round the widows bed, equally unwonted and unwelcome. 
Her over-taxed courage seemed to fail, for it was with something 
like a sob that she replied to his demand by saying, " I shall have 
twelve shillings to take for needlework, when this is done, and you 
shall have it every farthing sir, if you'll be so merciful." 

" And who's to pay your rent, Missis Armstrong ? if I may be 
so bold," said Mr. Butchel. 

The widow had not a word to say for herself, and, covering her 
face with her hands, wept bitterly. 

" Now's my time !" said Parsons to himself, as he stealthily crept 
from his hiding-place. " Now for Sir Matthew's benevolence." And, 
in a minute afterwards, his tall, gaunt figure, and hard counte- 
nance, were added to the company. The noise he made in entering, 
caused the widow to uncover her eyes, and it was with an emotion 
little short of terror that she recognised the tyrant, at whose name 
her children's cheeks grew pale. Instinctively she stretched out 
her hand, and took hold of that of Michael, who was still seated 
on the side of the bed. But the boy shook it off, as if his mother's 
love was a secret treasure that the overlooker must not see, and, 
suddenly standing up, he remained, with his eyes fixed on the 
ground, and his hands hanging by his sides, as if petrified. 

" Hollo! — why what's the matter now? Is all the parish come to 
wish joy to this good woman here ?" said the overlooker, with as 
jocund an air as he could persuade his iron features to assume. 

" Wish her joy ?" responded the well-tutored parish-officer, " and 
for what, Mr. Parsons, if you please? For having an honest 
tradesman come upon her with the gripe of the law, in hopes to get 
what's his own ? She's got into trouble, I promise you, and I don't 
very well see how she's to get out of it." 

" You don't say so ?" said the confidential agent. " What ! is 
that you, Mr. Larkins, coming to take the law of a poor body this 
way? I didn't think you was so hard-hearted." 

" I don't deserve that character, sir," replied the baker sharply; 
for though desired to call and enforce his claim by the parish 
overseer, j^r. Larkins knew not a word about Sir Matthew's scheme 
of benevolence; " and the proof that my heart isn't harder than 
other people's" he continued, " is, that I gave the widow here 



42 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

credit for what has been, excepting a few ounces of tea, her whole 
and sole living for months past." 

" And very kind of ye too," observed the conciliating superin- 
tendent. 

" I should like to know, then, what became of all the money 
the two boys got, besides her own needlework, and, of late, two 
shilling a week from the parish, beside?" observed Mr. Butchel. 

" Why, that is rather puzzling, I must say," replied Mr. Parsons, 
" but no matter for that, no matter for that, just now. This family 
have got a kind friend, I promise you." 

" Yes, but it does matter," returned Larkins. " It can't be right, 
no how, for me. to be out of three pounds two shillings and seven 
pence, and she with such lots of money." 

" Indeed, indeed, sir!" said the widow, once more looking up at 
him, " I have done my very best, paying a little and a little at a 
time, as you know I never stopped doing, only for two weeks that 
my biggest — that is my oldest boy, was making up time that was 
lost, when he was home sick, and so got no wages. But the seven 
shillings a week that they get between 'em, and my uncertain bit of 
needle-work, gentlemen, can't stand for food, and clothes, and 
rent' — and a little soap to keep us decent, and a bit of firing to 
boil a drop of water — it can't do all that, gentlemen, without 
getting behindhand, when any making up time comes in the 
factory." 

" Well then, that's just the reason why you must come into the 
house," replied Butchel ; " and, at any rate, you may depend upon 
getting no more money out of it." 

Upon hearing these words, " the decent, respectable man," who 
was willing to take the widow's goods, at a " valiation fair and 
honourable," began examining the condition of a chair that stood 
near him ; an operation which the widow eyed with the most piteous 
look imaginable. 

" Come into the house, I tell you, without more ado," resumed 
Butchel. " And what, in God's name, d'ye think we want you in for 
but your own good ? D'ye think the parish have a fancy for main- 
taining crippled women and children, by way of a pleasure ? Tis 
ruination any way ; but when you're in, we know the worst of it at 
once, and that's something. The boys' wages will go a bit to help, 
and at any rate there'll be no two shillings to pay, which is what 
the overseers hates above all things ; and what they won't continy to 
do. So now I have said my say." 

And here Mr. Butchel began to move his heavy person towards 
the door. 

" Stop a minute, Mr. Butchel, if you please sir," ejaculated Sir 
Matthew's superintendent. " I should be sorry to let you go back 
to your employers under any delusion or mistake whatever, and the 
fact is, that this good woman, the widow Armstrong, is no more 
likely to go into the workhouse than you are yourself, Mr. Butchel ; 
begging your pardon for naming such a thing." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 43 

" Then I suppose as it's yourself as means to keep her out of it, 
Mr. Parsons?" replied the parish officer jocosely. 

" Not exactly me, myself," replied the other in the same tone, 
" but it's one as much more able as he is willing. It is Sir Matthew 
Dowling as intends to befriend her, and that not only on account of 
the general charitableness of his temper, which all who know him 
really well are quite aware is very great, but because that little boy 
as stands there, and who is one of our factory children, saved a 
friend of Lady Dowling's, last night, from something she looked 
upon to be a considerable danger." 

" And does Sir Matthew mean to see me paid ?" demanded the 
baker. V 

" Upon my word, Mr. Larkin, that's more than what I've got 
authority to say," replied Parsons; "but, howsomever, I don't 
think that you had best go on, just at this particular minute, to 
persecute about it, seeing that in course Sir Matthew won't take it 
civil, when he's being such a friend himself to the widow." 

"I don't want to do nothing uncivil to nobody," replied the 
baker, " but I don't quite understand this business. It is some- 
thing new, isn't it, Sir Matthew setting up for a soft-hearted gentle- 
man, among the factory folks ?" 

"New to. you, may be, Mr. Larkin, but not to me," replied the 
trustworthy agent. " There isn't another to be found, look which 
way you will, that can be compared with Sir Matthew Dowling, for 
real, true, benevolent, charitableness, when he finds proper objects 
for it." 

The baker stared ; the man of old chairs and tables scratched 
his puzzled head ; the intelligent Mr. Butchel looked at the speaker 
with a knowing wink; the widow fixed her eyes upon her patchwork 
quilt ; and little Michael in astonishment, which conquered terror, 
raised his eyes to the superintendent's face, while that worthy advo- 
cate of a master's virtues stood firmly, striking his stout cane upon 
the ground, with the air of a man ready to do battle with all the 
world in support of what he has asserted. 

•' Well then, at any rate my business is done and ended," said 
Mr. Butchel moving off, " and I wish you joy Mussiss Armstrong of 
your unaccountable good fortune." 

" Come along, Jim !" said the baker to the respectable dealer in 
seized goods, " there's nothing to be done to-day, that's clear. But 
I hope you'll remember the twelve shillings as you've promised me, 
Mrs. Armstrong." 

"I will indeed, sir !" answered the widow earnestly; and, on 
receiving this assurance, Mr. Larkin took his departure with his 
professional friend, leaving Mr. Joseph Parsons, the widow Arm- 
strong, and her son Michael to carry on whatever conversation they 
might wish for, without interruption. . 

" Well now, if I : ain't glad they're gone, them fellows," said 
the superintendent shutting the door after _ them. " You are a 
favoured woman, Mrs. Armstrong, to get rid of 'em as you have 



44 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

done, and I don't and won't, question that you are thankful to those 
to whom thanks are due," 

" I always wish to be so, sir," said the widow. 

" Well, there's no hardship in that I suppose. But about this 
son of yours, this young Master Michael, you must see to his doing 
his duty to his benefactor, if he was to prove ungrateful, Mrs. 
Armstrong, it is but fair to tell you that I wouldn't undertake to 
answer for the consequences." 

" God forbid he ever should be ungrateful to any as was kind to 
him !" replied the poor woman ; " but indeed, sir, I don't think it is 
in his heart to be so. Since the day he was born, God bless him, 
I.have had little besides love to give him, and indeed, sir, I think the 
child would die for me." 

Michael slily stole his little hand sideways under the bed- 
clothes, where it was soon clasped in that of his mother, but his 
eyes were again firmly rivetted upon the ground. 

" Ay, ay, that's all very well ; but it has nothing to do in any 
way with his duty and obligations to Sir Matthew. What I want 
to know is, whether he is ready and willing to do that which Sir 
Matthew will require of him — that's the main question, you see, 
Mrs. Armstrong." 

" And what v/ill that be, sir?" said the widow, while Michael's 
eyes were again raised for a moment to the face of his taskmaster. 

" He is to be made a gentleman of — that's to be the first work 
put upon him." The poor woman smiled ; but little Michael shook 
his head. The superintendent appeared to pay no attention to 
either ; but again striking his cane magisterially upon the ground, 
he added, " Let him make up his mind to do all that he's bid, and 
come back to Dovvling Lodge with as little delay as possible." 

With these words, and without deigning to bestow any species of 
parting salutation upon those to whom they were addressed, Mr. 
Parsons left the room. 



CHAPTER V. 

A SEPARATION OF LOVING HEARTS — A SPECIMEN OF FINISHED 

COMPOSITION CONDESCENSION AND GENEROSITY— SIR MATTHEW 

CLOTHES LITTLE MICHAEL WITH HIS OWN HANDS. 

While the superintendent, in his serpentine course homeward, 
scattered the tidings of his master's munificence towards the factory- 
boy, Michael Armstrong and. his mother indulged themselves in a 
few parting words and very tender caresses ; the mother continuing 
to repeat at intervals, " Be sure, darling, to be a good boy, and do 
what you're bid," while the son reiterated his entreaties that she 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 45 

and Teddy would take care one of t'other, and have him back 
again, spite of every thing, if they found that they could not do so 
well without him. 

But even while this went on, Michael was improving liis toilet by 
putting on the more carefully patched garments, which had hitherto 
been kept sacred for Sundays. When this operation was completed, 
and his hair, face, and hands made as clean as the joint efforts of 
himself and his mother could contrive to make them, the little boy 
turned to leave the miserable shed that had been his home, with a re- 
luctant step and heavy heart, retracing the short distance between his 
mother's bed and the door, once and again to take another kiss, and 
to repeat, with increased earnestness, the questions, " Isn't there 
nothing more I can do for you, mother, before I go away 1 — and 
will you be sure to tell Teddy to stop for me, morning- and night, 
at the gate in the lane, where it all happened ? — will you mother?" 

But at length the lingering separation was completed, and 
Michael set off upon his return to Dowling Lodge. In the mean 
time, Sir Matthew himself had not been idle : but, retiring to his 
study, he composed a paragraph for the county newspaper, which, 
after considerable study and repeated corrections, was at length 
completed, and despatched by the post, in a feigned hand, the wax 
being stamped with the handle of the seal instead of his arms, and 
the postage paid. 

The paragraph ran thus : 

"ENGLISH BENEVOLENCE. 

"There is, perhaps, no class of men so cruelly misrepresented 
as the manufacturers of Great Britain ; surrounded on all sides by 
a population of labourers, crowded together exactly in proportion 
to the quantity of work the neighbouring factories are able to fur- 
nish — they are continually reproached both with giving too many 
hours of employment to their poor neighbours on the one hand, and 
with the poverty which is the inevitable lot of operatives with large 
families on the other. 

"That all manufacturers, however, are not the cruel mercenary 
tyrants they are so often, and so unjustly described to be, was 
shown within the last few days by an incident which occurred near 
the town of Ashleigh, not a hundred miles from D — 1 — g L — d — e. 
The owner of that splendid mansion, while escorting the amiable 

Lady — round his grounds, had occasion to remark some 

symptoms of a very noble disposition in one of the children be- 
longing to a neighbouring factory on his estate. On making in- 
quiries, he discovered him to be the son of a poor widow, whose 
failing health made her, and her orphan children peculiarly eligible 
as objects of charity. This fact having been satisfactorily ascer- 
tained, Sir M — th — w D — 1 — g gave way to the warm impulses of 
his generous heart, and adopting the little orphan among his own 
children, at once gratified the gentle feelings of his amiable nature, 
and set them an example which it is impossible they should ever 
forget. It is more easy for the recorder of this charming anecdote 



46 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to relate thus the principal circumstances of it, than to enter into 
any detail of the numberless delicate traits of character exhibited 
by Sir M. D — 1 — g in the course of the transaction. Those who 
know him thoroughly, will, however, be at no loss how to supply 
these ; and those who do not, would scarcely understand the de- 
scription, were it given with all the detail possible." 

The value and the accuracy of the statements contained in this 
announcement, belonged wholly to the author of it ; the phraseo- 
logy to a private MS. digest of newspaper eloquence, the result of 
many years of steady research, during which no morsel of fine writ- 
ing that might assist in such occasional addresses to the public as 
the present, had been ever suffered to flow down the stream of time, 
and perish, without having been first carefully noted in the knight's 
repertory of fine periods. 

Having concluded this business, Sir Matthew Dowling rang his 
bell. As it was only the study-bell, it was answered, as usual, by 
one of the housemaids. 

" Where is the little boy, my dear, that I sent into the servants' 
hall last night ?" inquired Sir Matthew. 

" Upon my word, Sir Matthew, I can't tell," she replied ; adding, 
in that tone of familiar confidence which her master's condescension 
encouraged, "but if you sent him into the hall, Sir Matthew, 
he never got there, nor never will, you may take my word for that, 
as long as Madam Thompson reigns." 

The housemaid was not a beauty — none such, as was before stated, 
ever made part of Lady Dowling's household ; but she was a wit, 
and Sir Matthew was too clever himself not to feel the value of 
cleverness in others ; he, therefore, raised his eyebrows in a comic 
grimace, very good-humouredly chucked the maid under her ugly 
chin, and instead of putting himself in a rage, as might have 
happened under other circumstances, he only said, " And how was 
that my dear ? Come, tell me all about it — I like your stories, 
Peggy, they are always so funny." 

" Whose stories wouldn't he funny, Sir Matthew, if they told of 
the airs and graces of Mother Thompson !" replied the lively dam- 
sel ; " she's for all the world like an old owl, as sits winking his 
eyes and trying to look wise." 

" But she's a prime favourite with my lady, Peggy, and into the 
bargain, knows a thing or two about soups and hashes ; so we 
must be very respectful, my dear, in talking of her — but as to her 
daring to say, that the boy I ordered into the hall was to be turned 
out of it, that's rather more than possible, I think." 

" That's because you don't know Mrs. Thompson, Sir Matthew. 
I only wish you had heard and seen 'em last night, she, and the 
butler, and Mrs. Fine Airs, my lady's maid, and Mr. Fine Airs, my 
lady's footman ! If it was not enough to make one sick, I wish I 
may never see you again, Sir Matthew." 

u They are a confounded impertinent set of rubbish," replied 
Sir Matthew ; but still without losing his good humour. " How- 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 47 

ever, all people of fashion, that is, rich people, Peggy, always do 
have a confounded impertinent set of servants about 'em. That's 
one of the great differences between high people and low." 

"To be sure you must know best, Sir Matthew," replied the 
saucy grisette, but with a look and accent somewhat ironical. " I 
don't mean to doubt that in the least, I'm sure ; but in the places 
I've lived at — Lord Wilmot's, Lord Crampton's, and such like, I 
never did hear of my lord's commands being treated in that fashion. 
They might have their jokes in the hall, and the housekeeper's 
room too, no doubt of it, and impudent enough if you like it ; 
but for downright flat disobedience, I never did hear of such a 
thing." 

Sir Matthew on hearing this, became rather white about the lips, 
and red about the forehead ; but Peggy knew the rising storm was 
not at all likely to fall on her, so nothing daunted, she went on. 

" I don't think I should have taken much notice about it, Sir 
Matthew, if it had n't been for not liking to see you treated with dis- 
respect ; for I'm not over and above partial to beggar children my- 
self; but that sort of natural dislike was nothing in comparison to 
my feelings about you, sir : and if I had been placed in power, in- 
stead of having none, your will would have been obeyed, if every 
servant in the house had flowed at me for it." 

" You're an excellent girl, Peggy," replied the knight, approach- 
ing her very condescendingly. " You know well enough that you 
are a favourite, and I know well enough, my dear, that you deserve 
to be so ; and I tell you what, Peggy, I'll take care to let those 
animals, my servants, know that I am master here, as well as in the 
factory — and that my word's law !" 

" And so it ought to be, Sir Matthew," replied the obedient do- 
mestic. " I hope I know my duty too Avell to dispute my master's 
will in any thing ;" and as she spoke she very meekly yielded her- 
self to receive the condescending salute, with which Sir Matthew 
was pleased to reward her excellent sentiments. 

" You are an excellent good girl, Peggy !" he resumed after this 
little interruption ; " and don't fear but I shall find means to reward 
you. But you must give me your help, my dear, to confound the 
impertinence of these fellow-servants of yours ; if I don't make 'em 
wait upon that beggar's brat as if he was their lord and master, never 
trust me with a kiss more. Where is the little factory vermin, 
Peggy?" 

" I ain't able to answer you, Sir Matthew ; all I know is, that 
Mrs. Thompson marched us all out of the kitchen where she sat in 
judgment on him, last night, and there he was left with the kitchen- 
maid and the fat cook ; but what's come of him since, I am no 
ways able to say." 

On hearing this, Sir Matthew raised his hand towards the bell, 
but suddenly recollecting himself, he smiled and said, " No, no, 
that won't do, Peggy, will it ? Go, my dear, and ask where the boy 
is, and then come back and tell me." 

The damsel, in return, furtively smiled too, in acquiescence and 



48 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

approval of his discretion ; and upon leaving his study for the pur- 
pose of prosecuting her inquiries among the servants, she encoun- 
tered the object of them, as he entered the back-door, on his return 
from visiting his mother's cottage. 

" Soh ! here you are then? Well, you must come along this mi- 
nute to Sir Matthew," said she, addressing him somewhat gruffly, 
and not too well pleased, perhaps, at this interruption to the confi- 
dential conversation with her master, which it had been her purpose 
to renew. But to the ears of Michael, the name of Sir Matthew 
was sufficient to render all other words indifferent ; and conscious 
only, that into his dreaded presence he must go if commanded to do 
so, he followed the girl with a beating heart, and in a few minutes 
stood pale, and almost breathless, before the awful countenance of 
the great man. 

Sir Matthew gazed at him for a moment with a sort of sneer, 
which, if interpreted skilfully, would have been found to address itself 
inwardly. Sir Matthew could not choose but sneer at the whim- 
sical arrangements of accidents, which had converted him into a 
Mr. Allworthy. The sneer, however, as far as it concerned himself, 
had no mixture of contempt in it. " Had another done this thing," 
thought he, " should I not have called him fool ? and is it not 
ninety-nine chances to a hundred, that thereby I should have de- 
scribed him truly ? May the same be said of me ? No ! By the 
living God, it may not ! How now, little boy ? you have made 
yourself smart, I see — vastly fine, indeed ! An inch of clean dow- 
las, a piece of span-new green baize for a patch, a pair of bony legs 
without stockings, and magnificent shoes — I did not say a pair, 
Peggy — but very magnificent shoes ; one I suppose won in battle 
from a giant, and the other from a dwarf. Fine as a prince ! isn't 
he, Peggy ?■' 

As he thus jeered the little fellow, his eye wandered with malig- 
nant jocularity over his person, which was, in truth, the very model of 
make-shift poverty ; while the child, as if he felt his eye palpably 
crawl like a reptile over him, shuddered he knew not why. 

Then, changing his tone so suddenly, as to make even the con- 
fiding Peggy start, he continued, " You horrid lump of rags stand 
back — stand back ! back ! back ! behind that high chair — d'ye 
hear ? Stand close and stand still — if he does not make me as sick 
as a dog, Peggy, let me never smell musk more !" 

" He does smell horrid bad to be sure, Sir Matthew !" replied 
the girl. " Hadn't I better take him back to Molly the kitchen- 
maid, and make her scour him ?" 

" No, hang him — that won't take it out of him — I know 'em all. 
No, Peggy, let the scouring alone, and just go up stairs to the 
nursery-maids, and tell them to send me down a good hand- 
some suit of clothes, complete, of Master Duodecimus's — -he is the 
nearest in size to this scaramouch ; and I will dress him, Peggy, as 
if he were the son of a duke. It will be fun, capital fun, and will it 
not be generous, Peggy ?" 

« Generous, Sir Matthew? It will be past all belief! What? 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 49 

Him to be dressed up in the clothes of Master Duodecimus? oh, 
my ! Sir Matthew, you must sure-ly be joking." 

" I'm as serious as an undertaker, girl. Get along with you, 
and do what I bid you — the longer you're about it, mind, the 
longer I shall have to sit in the same room with the ragamuffin in 
his own full dress — so make haste, if you please." 

This was said in a manner to remove all doubts as to the munifi- 
cent knight's being in earnest ; and the active Peggy went and 
returned with as little delay as was consistent with the necessity 
she felt herself under, of entering into some short explanation with 
the nursery ladies ; one and all of whom seemed much inclined, on 
the first opening of her mission, to treat the whole business as a 
hoax. When at length, however, she had succeeded in making it 
apparent that Sir Matthew was waiting for the suit of clothes in a 
most monstrous outrageous passion of a hurry, the messenger's arms 
were speedily loaded in exact conformity to the orders she had 
brought, and she returned to the knight's study with all that was 
needful to convert the rude exterior of little Michael into the 
nearest resemblance that nature would permit, to the elegant and 
accomplished Master Duodecimus. 

Considering the loathing and disgust manifested by Sir Matthew 
towards the person and the poverty of his protege, it was extraor- 
dinary to see the amusement he seemed to derive from dressing him 
up. Though the alert and obedient Peggy stood close by to do 
his pleasure, it was his own large hands that thrust the little limbs 
of Michael into the clothing he chose they should wear, and it was 
amidst shouts of laughter from both, that the ludicrous metamor- 
phosis was completed. 

But somehow or other when they had finished their masquerading 
work, the result was not altogether what Sir Matthew anticipated. 
The clothes were very handsome, well-made clothes, and as poor 
Michael, notwithstanding his leanness, was a very handsome, well- 
made boy, the incongruity between them seemed to vanish in the 
most unaccountable manner, as the operation drew towards a con- 
clusion. 

Peggy, however, was not such a fool as not to understand what 
was expected of her ; so when the knight, catching up his son's tas- 
selled cap, pressed it down upon the little curly head as a lusty packer 
of worthless goods thrusts down the cover that is to enclose them, 
and then pushed the child towards her with an impulse that nearly 
brought him upon his nose, she very judiciously renewed her noisy 
laughter, exclaiming, " Did any one ever see such a little quiz !" 

" Quiz, girl ?" replied Sir Matthew, eyeing him with no very fond 
expression. " It would be well for the scamp if that was the worst 
you could say of him — I know a thing or two Peggy, and that 
boy will be lucky if he gets drowned. I'll bet a hundred guineas 
that with a few lessons, he would forge any writing you could show 
him ; and before he is twenty, he will have taken as many shapes as 
Turpin. That boy was born with a halter round his neck, 1 want 
no gipsy to tell me that." 

E 



50 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

During the whole of the undressing and redressing operations, the 
boy's cheeks had been dyed with blushes, and his eyes so fixedly 
nailed to the floor, that neither Sir Matthew nor his maid had been 
able to enjoy their embarrassed expression ; but as this dark pro- 
phecy fell on him, he looked up, and it was well for him that his 
munificent patron at the same instant turned his mocking glances 
towards the servant, as he said, u There — gather up his rags, girl, 
and be sure you wash well after it ;" for, had he met that speaking 
young eye, he could hardly have misunderstood the scorn that shot 
from it. As it was, however, he saw nothing but the patched gar- 
ments that were scattered round, and once more sneering as he 
looked at them, he added, " Lead the little blackguard through 
the servants'-hall, and into Mrs. Thompson's parlour — d'ye hear, 
Peggy, up to her very nose, and tell her that I have sent him to pay 
her a visit, and when she has had enough of the compliment, lead 
him round to Mademoiselle's room, and we'll have a little fun among 
the children." 

By no means displeased with an errand which permitted her to 
affront with impunity the autocrat of all the offices, Peggy gathered 
together Michael's discarded wardrobe and then clutching hold of 
his hand, led him, bongre malgre, to the presence of the imperious 
housekeeper. 

Mrs. Willis, my Lady Dowling's own maid, and Mr. Jennings, 
my Lady Dowling's own man, were enjoying with that important 
functionary a slight morning repast of fruit, cakes, and wine, and at 
the moment Peggy and her charge entered, they were enjoying some 
very excellent jokes together. But, Mr. Jennings no sooner cast 
his eyes on the little factory-boy, than he arose, looking rather 
abashed at being caught by a drawing-room guest of even nine 
years old, with a glass of claret in one hand, and a slice of pine- 
apple in the other. 

Peggy, to whom the conciliatory smiles of this gay gentleman did 
not descend, enjoyed his mystification exceedingly ; and relaxing 
her rough hold of Michael's wrist, she led him respectfully towards 
the table saying, " My master has sent this young gentleman to 
pay you a visit, Mrs. Thompson ; perhaps he would like a little fruit. 
There, my dear, that's the housekeeper Sir Matthew told you of, and 
if you will please to go and sit down by her, I dare say she will give 
you something nice." 

Mr. Jennings immediately placed a chair beside the gracious 
Mrs. Thompson, who, after filling and setting before the young 
gentleman a plate with whatever she supposed would be most 
agreeable, said in a half whisper to his conductor, " Who is it, 
Peggy ? I didn't hear never a carriage." 

Before she could, or at least before she would answer, Michael, 
who had not accepted the chair offered to him, took his cap from 
his head, and with considerably more courage than he had yet 
shown said, " [ am Michael Armstrong, the factory-boy." 

"Who! What?" screamed the housekeeper ; " what bold joke 
is this, Mrs. Peggy Perkins? Do you think you have got a patent 
for your place, that you dare play such tricks as this ?" 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 51 

"If I keeps my place, I don't think I shall have to thank you for 
it, ma'am," replied the favoured housemaid, with very little civility. 
" My master ordered me to bring the boy to pay you a visit ; those 
was his very words, Mrs. Thompson, and as I was bid, so I have 
done." 

" There's some people as will do every thing and any thing they 
are bid," observed Mrs. Willis, again drawing out her favourite 
smelling-bottle, while with the other hand she extended a wine-glass 
to Mr, Jennings, for a little Madeira, which she felt was absolutely 
necessary to support her in this very disagreeable emergency. 
" Master, or no master, Sir Matthew Dowling doesn't know 
how to behave himself — it's I says it, and I don't care who repeats 
it to him." 

Mr. Jennings stared at the factory-boy for a full minute very 
attentively, and then gave a long low whistle, at the same time 
turning his eyes with a look of much intelligence full in the face of 
the housekeeper. 

" He isn't at all like any of 'em, Mrs. Thompson," said he. 

Mrs. Thompson shook her head. " There is nothing at all in that, 
Mr. Jennings, I'm sorry to say. But remember I do desire, and 
insist, that the subject is never alluded to in my presence again. 
When I lived with his grace, I always made it a rule that none of 
the household should ever discourse in my presence of any thing 
that it was not decent to hear." 

" Well, ma'am," said Peggy ; " when you have done looking 
at him, he is to go into Momsell's room for the children to see 
him." 

The housekeeper, the lady's-maid, and the footman, all simulta- 
neously lifted up their hands and eyes to heaven. 

" Please to let me put on my old clothes and go home," said 
Michael. 

" You little ungrateful wretch !" exclaimed Peggy; " when Sir 
Matthew dressed you up himself with his own hands. What d'ye 
mean by that, you bad boy?" 

" They'll laugh at me," said Michael, resolutely ; " and I don't 
like it." 

" You don't? Isn't that a good one V said Mr. Jennings, clap- 
ping his hands in ecstasy. " Oh, Lord ! pray let us have him back 
again, Mrs. Peggy, that is to say if Sir Matthew can bear to part 
with him. He's the finest fun I've got sight of this many a day." 

M You must find fun for yourself, Mr. Jennings, for I shan't be at 
the trouble of bringing you none," replied the self-satisfied Peggy, 
again seizing the hand of Michael, and leading him off. 

; ' Well, for a broom-maid, I hope she's saucy enough," said Mr. 
Jennings ; but the subject of his remark was already beyond hear- 
ing, threading her way through the long stone passages which con- 
ducted to the opposite wing of the mansion, the whole of which was 
appropriated to the younger branches of the Dowling family. 

e2 



52 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER VI. 

Michael's introduction to all the miss dowlings — sir 
matthew feeds him with his own hand, and presents 
him to all his most valued friends. 

Having given a sharp rap on the door, Peggy was told to " com 
een," by the voice of Mademoiselle Beaujoie; whereupon she threw 
the door wide open before her, and stood with Michael Armstrong in 
her hand, in the presence of three grown-up Miss Dowlings, three 
middle-sized Miss Dowlings, two little Miss Dowlings, and their 
French governess. 

The five youngest, all rushed as by one accord towards Michael. 
" What a pretty little boy !" was exclaimed by two or three of 
them. " Are you come to play with us ? Mayn't we have a holi- 
day, Ma'mselle ?" 

" What an elegant-looking creature !" exclaimed the eldest Miss 
Dowling, who with her two grown-up sisters, had come into the 
room for the advantage of practising duets on a venerable pianoforte 
totally out of tune, and whose loudest note could by no means 
compete with the shrill accents of the animated group who inha- 
bited the apartment. "Did you ever see a prettier boy, Harriet ?" 

" Who is he, I wonder?" replied the young lady she addressed. 

" How he blushes !" said the governess, tittering. 

"What's your name, dear?" demanded Miss Martha, the third 
daughter of the Dowling race. 

" Michael Armstrong, ma'am," replied the boy, looking up with 
an air of surprise, for Miss Martha, queer-looking as she was, spoke 
kindly. And queer-looking as she was, Michael met her eye with 
pleasure, for that too spoke kindly, though it was neither large nor 
bright. 

Martha Dowling was in truth, about as ugly as it was possible for 
a girl of seventeen to be, who was neither deformed nor marked by 
the smallpox, — short, fat, snub-nosed, red-faced, with a quantity of 
sandy hair, that, if not red, looked very much as if it intended to 
be so; eyes of a light, very light gray, and without any thing 
whatever in external appearance to recommend her, except a 
smooth, plump, neck and shoulders, with hands and arms to match, 
which, in truth, were very fair and nice-looking, and a set of well- 
formed, stout white teeth. 

What made the unlucky appearance of this young lady the 
more remarkable, was the contrast it presented to the rest of her 
family. All the other young people were, like both their parents, 
" more than common tall," for their respective ages, and, like most 
other tall young people, rather thin, so that Lady Dowling was apt to 
indulge herself by declaring that, " though certainly some of her 
children might be considered prettier than the rest, there was not 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 53 

one of the whole set (except that poor vulgar Martha), who was not 
most particular genteel-looking." 

" Genteel /ooki?ig" she certainly was not, nor graceful, nor 
beautiful in any way ; and the consequence was, that father, mo- 
ther, brothers, and sisters, were all most heartily ashamed of her. 
This was a misfortune, and she felt it to be so pretty sharply, fox- 
poor vulgar Martha was far from being a stupid girl. But, in her 
case, as in a million of others, it might be seen that adversity, 
though 

" Like the toad, ugty and venomous, 
Weareth a precious jewel in its head." 

for of all her race she was the only one w r hose heart was not seared 
and hardened by the ceaseless operation of opulent self-indul- 
gence. She felt that she was rather an object of pity than of admi- 
ration, of contempt than of envy, of dislike than of love. This is 
severe schooling for a young girl's heart, but if it produce not 
reckless indifference, or callous insensibility, it often purifies, 
softens, and even elevates the character. Such were its effects on 
Martha Dowling : that coarse-seeming exterior contained the only 
spark of refinement of which the Dowling family could boast. 
Never did a high-born Hidalgo, in Spain's proudest days, inculcate 
among his race the immeasurable importance of pure descent, with 
more ceaseless or more sedulous earnestness, than did Sir Matthew, 
the omnipotence of wealth among his. Every child was taught, as 
soon as its mind became capable of receiving the important truth, 
that not only was it agreeable to enjoy and cherish all the good 
things which wealth can procure, but that it was their bounden and 
special duty to make it visible before the eyes of all men that they 
could, and that they did, have more money spent upon them, than 
any other family in the whole country ; but Martha felt that all this 
could not apply to her. 

Strange to say, the only tie resembling affection which prevented 
the total isolation of this poor girl among her family, was that 
which existed between her hard-natured father and herself; but it 
was a sentiment not easy to analyze. In Sir Matthew it. pro- 
bably arose at first from his having been told that the little girl was 
very like him ; and, on hers, from his being the only person in the 
house who had ever bestowed a caress upon her. In both cases, 
cause and effect went on increasing. Martha's face (saving its ex- 
pression), was incontrovertibly like her father's ; and, for that rea- 
son, or from the habit it had at first created, her father, though 
rather ashamed to confess it, was certainly very fond of her. 

That, as a child, she should love him in return, was almost in- 
evitable ; but that, as she advanced in years, she should feel for the 
being, the most completely formed by nature to be hateful to her, 
an affection the most unchanging and devoted, had something of 
mystery in it less easy to be explained. Yet, so it was. Martha 
Dowling adored her hard-hearted, vicious, unprincipled, illiterate, 
vulgar father, as heartily as if he had been the model of every thing- 
she most admired and approved. Nay, it may be, that she loved him 



54 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

better, or, at any rate, more strongly still ; for it was rather with 
fanaticism than devotion, or like the pitying fondness with which a 
mother dotes on a deformed child, who sees only that because it is 
less loveable it has more need of love than the rest. 

It was not, however, on the same principle, that Sir Matthew's 
affection for his ugly daughter increased as years rolled on ; for he 
saw, that though as a child she had been like him, she was now 
grown very plain : and, in company, he felt almost as much 
ashamed of her, as Lady Dowling herself. But he could not mis- 
take her love and true affection, nor resist the charm of feeling that 
at least there was one being in existence, who would have che- 
rished him, even if he had not been the great man he was. 

In private he scrupled not to yield to this feeling, and certainly 
derived ' considerable pleasure from it; but before witnesses, he 
always joined in the family tone respecting " -poor Martha" and 
scrupled not to push her on one side, upon all occasions on which 
any display of Dowling elegance was contemplated. 

It was this ugly Martha Dowling who now startled little Michael 
with her voice of kindness, and, notwithstanding all her lady mother 
said about the " horrid vulgarity of her manners," poor Martha 
had a sweet and gentle voice. The child looked up at her, and 
with the weakness that appeared constitutionally peculiar to him, 
his eyes were immediately filled with tears. Yet Michael was not a 
whimpering boy either ; many had seen him harshly treated, for he 
had worked almost from babyhood in the cotton-factory, but nobody 
had ever seen him cry under it. But if his mother, or his poor sickly 
brother, touched his little heart, either with joy or tenderness, he 
would weep and laugh both, with very infantine susceptibility. So 
it was with him now, for when Martha added with a good-humoured 
smile, " And what brings you here, Master Armstrong?" he laughed 
outright as he replied, " Indeed, ma'am, I ain't Master Armstrong, 
and I don't know a bit what 1 be here for." 

This speech, though addressed to Martha, being heard by all, the 
contrast between his appearance and his language considerably ex- 
cited the curiosity of the two eldest Miss Dowlings. 

" La ! how he talks ! I thought he was a gentleman by his 
jacket, didn't you, Arabella?" said Miss Harriet. 

" Yes to be sure I did," replied the eldest sister. '* But I am 
sure he is not, with that horrid way of speaking, what did you bring 
him here for Peggy ?" continued the young lady with an air of 
authority. 

" Because master bid me, miss," was the satisfactory reply. 

" Well to be sure, that is queer ! I suppose he's the son of some- 
body or other, or papa would never have sent him in to us. It is 
not at all his way to patronise vulgarity. Where do you live, young 
gentleman ?" 

Michael looked very much as if he were in danger of laughing 
again, but he did not, and replied very demurely, " in Mr. Sykes's 
back-kitchen, ma'am, in Hoxley-lane." 

Though the answer was addressed to the inquirer, his eye turned 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 55 

to Martha as he uttered it, as if anxious to see how she bore it, but he 
encountered a look that altogether puzzled him ; for though it was 
at least as kind as before, there was uneasiness in it, and she looked 
round her, as if uncomfortably doubtful of what would happen 
next. 

She did not, however, wait long for the result; for Miss Sophia,. 
Miss Louisa, and Miss Charlotte, the three middling-sized Miss 
Dowlings, who had approached very near to the little boy, and were 
even growing so familiar that Miss Charlotte had taken hold of one 
of his dark curls, were severally and suddenly drawn off by the re- 
spective hands of their two eldest sisters, and the governess. 

" Then he is not a young gentleman after all ?" said Miss 
Sophia. 

" La ; how funny !" exclaimed Miss Louisa, u where did he get 
his clothes from?" interrogated Miss Harriet. 

" Most likely he stole them," responded Miss Arabella. 
" Why 'tis Duodecimus's jacket !" ejaculated the observing Miss 
Charlotte. 

" Oh ! quelle horreur !" cried the governess driving her pupils 
all before her to the other end of the room. 

At this moment, and before any more active measures could be re- 
sorted to for the safety of the young ladies, the door of the school- room 
was again thrown open, and the portly person of Sir Matthew 
appeared at it, accompanied by the globe-like figure of Doctor 
Crockley. 

" Good morning young ladies !" said the proud father, looking 
round him, and immediately entering into the jest that he saw was 
afloat. " How do you like the young beau I have sent you*?" 

" Good gracious, papa!" exclaimed the elegant and much ad- 
mired Miss Arabella, " he is a beggar-boy and a thief!" 

Sir Matthew, and his friend Doctor Crockley, both burst into 
such a shout of laughter at this sally, that it was a minute before 
either of them could speak ; but at length the knight, turning to the 
doctor, said, 

" Leave my girls alone, Crockley, for finding out what's what ; I 
don't believe there's one of them but what would have found that 
fellow out, if I had wrapped him up in the king's own mantle." 

" They are sharp enough, there is no doubt of that," replied his 
friend, " but I must say you don't perform your charitable acts by 
halves, Sir Matthew. You have dressed up the little scamp so 
superbly, that nothing but the vulgar dark complexion could make 
one know that he was not one of your own." 

" Why yes, there is some difference in the skins I must say," re- 
plied Sir Matthew, looking with most parental complacency on the 
fair skins, flaxen hair, and light eyelashes of his race. 

Difference, indeed ! 'Tis Africa and Europe. And is it not re- 
markable Sir Matthew to see the look of him ? Hasn't he got a 
sort of slavish, terrified air with it? I tell you what, Sir Matthew, 
I should not be at all surprised to find, when the march of philo- 
sophy has got a little farther, that the blackamoor look comes along 



56 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

with the condition, and, that the influence of wealth and conse- 
quence is as quickly shown npon the external appearance of men, 
women, and children, as a field of clover upon the inferior animals. 
And why not? It is quite natural — perfectly conformable to the 
analogy, that, by accurately tracing cause and effect, may be 
followed through all creation. You have a head, Sir Matthew, for 
that sort of thing ; you can understand me, if nobody else can." 

The little doctor knew that this was one of the soft points at 
which his wealthy neighbour was assailable. Sir Matthew loved to 
be assured that his head was of a superior fabric. 

" But why, papa, should you send a nasty beggar-boy to us, with 
Duo's clothes on ?" inquired the intelligent Louisa. Before he 
replied to this, the knight exchanged a glance with his friend, 
which seemed to say, " that's the right sort — she's in the clover- 
field." 

" I have taken him in for charity, my dear," replied the knight, 
with a sort of pomposity that seemed of a new pattern. The young 
ladies had never seen papa look so before. Martha, from having 
found herself rather more frequently the object of Dr. Crockley's 
jokes than she desired, had, on his entering the room, retired to the 
window, but now she came up to her father, and quietly, and as 
often happened, almost unnoticed, kissed his hand. 

For charity !" exclaimed the fair-haired Arabella, moving a step 
or two farther away from the object of this extraordinary caprice. 
u La Papa! why don't you send him to the hospital?" 

Doctor Crockley laughed outrageously. " That girl, Sir Mat- 
thew," he said, when he had recovered his voice, " that girl is be- 
yond all comparison the most thoroughly-born lady that ever I 
happened to hit upon — and that is saying something, I promise you. 
She hasn't a commonplace vulgar notion in her from top to toe. It 
is what I call the physiology of wealth — it is upon my soul — it is a 
study, a science. I have not got to the end of it, but I am certain 
I shall make a system out of it — and you'll be able to follow me, 
there's some comfort in that. I declare to God, that if I had not 
found you in the neighbourhood, I should have bolted. I cannot 
exist without occasionally bringing my mind in contact with superior 
intellect ; you find that, too, Sir Matthew, I'm sure you do." 

Sir Matthew assured him that he did, very much ; and then 
pulling a Belinda lock that adorned the olive-coloured throat of 
Mademoiselle Beaujoie, he asked her if she had ever seen a brat, 
taken in for charity, so nicely dressed as that little blackguard." 

"Brawt? 9a veut dire petit vaut-rien. No, my honor Sire 
Matue, nayver ! you are viddout no reval de most — " 

Whilst the French governess struggled to find a word sufficiently 
expressive of admiration, and if possible, with some little meaning 
besides, Sir Matthew took the liberty of pinching her ear, while he 
whispered into it, " What, you little rogue? what ?" 

She gave him a Parisian osillade, by no means an unkind one, 
and turned away, while the two smallest Miss Dowlings ran up to 
her, and, in the jargon in which their mamma and papa delighted. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 57 

demanded " si papa voulait let them jouer avec the little beggar- 
boy?" 

This question, repeated nearly in the same words by Mademoi- 
selle Beaujoie to the knight, appeared to cause him some perplexity, 
and, after reflecting upon it for a minute, he turned to consult his 
philosophical friend. 

" I say Crockley, what do you think of that V Then lowering his 
voice, he added, " you comprehend the job, doctor, — which will do 
best to help it ? Parlour or kitchen, school-room or factory, 
drawing-room or scullery? 

" All and every of them," replied his friend, in the same low 
tone, but very decisively. " No doubt in nature about that, Sir 
Matthew ; he must be here, there, and every where, and the thing 
will fly like mad." 

" You are always right Crockley, there is nobody like you," re- 
plied the grateful knight, cordially slapping the round shoulders of 
his friend, " I twig, I twig, and so it shall be, by the Lord 
Harry." 

"You are as rapid as lightning, Sir Matthew ! I remember no in- 
stance of a cerebral formation so absolutely perfect as yours. Now 
then, let us visit my lady, shall we ? I am as dry as brickdust, 
and it is about lunch-time I take it. Bring the boy with you, and 
introduce him before the servants in style." 

" So I will — that's it — I twig, Crockley. Go, Martha, and see if 
the luncheon is laid." 

The report being favourable to the wishes of the gentleman, the 
party, consisting of the three eldest Miss Dowlings, their papa and the 
doctor, left the young ladies and their governess to dine, while, with 
little Michael, who was ordered to follow, they all repaired to the 
dining-room, where a well-covered table awaited them. 

Her ladyship and Mr. Augustus were already there, and both 
expressed exactly the degree of curiosity which the knight desired, 
as to who the little gentleman might be whom they brought with 
them. 

Miss Dowling,* and Miss Harriet Dowling, burst into a loud 
laugh ; Sir Matthew looked towards the sideboard, and seeing two 
servants in attendance there, spoke as follows : 

" My dear Lady Dowling, I must bespeak your munificent cha- 
rity, and universal benevolence in favour of this little unhappy boy. 
His mother is a widow, and— and something, I forget exactly what, 
is very unhappy about her — -and this little boy behaved remarkably 
well — " Here Sir Matthew broke off in some degree of embarrass- 
ment, not wishing particularly to impress upon his lady's mind that 
it was his tender care for the Lady Clarissa Shrimpton, which had first 
introduced the fortunate factory-boy to his notice. But he passed 
all that over very skilfully, and ended his harangue by saying, " I 
know perfectly well, my dear lady Dowling, that there is not in the 
whole world so amiable a person as yourself, and therefore I enter- 
tain not the slightest doubt, that the benevolence which warms my 
heart on this occasion, will communicate itself to yours." 



58 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Lady Dowling raised her light eyebrows, and her still lighter 
eyelashes, into a look of the most unmitigated astonishment, and 
remained thus for a while, contemplating the extraordinary spec- 
tacle, of one of the handsomest boys she had ever seen, dressed in 
a style of unquestionable fashion, and presented to her as a being 
so deplorably miserable, as to have excited the pity of her hus- 
band. The first clear and distinct idea that suggested itself was, 
the necessity of inquiring respecting this beautiful child's mother, 
and of finding out whether she might not happen to be beautiful too ; 
the next arose from the sudden recognition of her own son's own 
clothes, and the complexion of the lady became extremely florid." 

" I should like to know where he got those clothes from," she 
said in accents that by no means spoke composure of spirit. 

" My dearest love," replied the most amiable and the most polite 
of husbands, u that is entirely my doing. You have known me 
long enough, my sweetest, to be aware that I never do any thing by 
halves — I saw that little fellow ragged and wretched, and I- clothed 
him !" 

" Well, I must say, I do think — " began her ladyship, when Sir 
Matthew, seating himself at the table, thrust a knife and fork into 
the very centre of a pigeon-pie, and accompanied the act by a 
sound, something between a slight cough and a grunt, which, in ' 
language matrimonial, was known to mean, ; ' You had better hold 
your tongue and mind your business." Whereupon, Lady Dowling 
sat down too, but her fair complexion was rather more rosy than 
was becoming, and it was in no very sweet voice that she said to 
Martha, who ventured to take a chair next her, " Do get a little 
farther, child, can't you? — You know- I hate to be crushed and 
crammed up so*" 

Here Dr. Crockley, who had already fallen with vehemence upon 
a cold ham, stopped for a moment, and laughed vehemently. 
" My dear madam, you are of the slight and elegant order your- 
self, and you don't make allowance for poor people who are as fat 
and roundabout as Miss Martha and I — we can't squeeze ourselves 
into an eggshell, Miss Martha, can we ?" 

Her slim sisters tittered, and the witty Augustus observed, that 
" To be sure, Martha did look more like a collar of Oxford brawn, 
than any thing else in creation." 

Meanwhile, the meal proceeded, and little' Michael continued to 
stand half-way between the door and the table, as fixedly as if he 
had taken root there. 

Martha was, in general, very philosophically inclined to let all 
things round her take their course ; but she sat exactly opposite to the 
object of her father's benevolence, and there was something in the 
expression of his eye, as it rested upon the dainties before him, that 
was more than she could bear. " May I give the little boy some- 
thing to eat, papa?" said she addressing her father in a timid 
voice. 

" How shall we manage about that, Crockley ?" whispered Sir 
Matthew into the ear of the doctor who sat close to him. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 59 

" Cram him, cram him, Sir Matthew. — You'll find it like oil on 
the surface of water, spreading far and wide," replied his counsellor, 
whispering in return, " Let the boy have to boast of his high 
feeding-, and it will do move good than if you were to endow him 
with lands and houses, and keep him lean." 

" Say you so, my wise man! Faith, then, the matter is easy 
enough, for I believe Dowling Lodge is rather celebrated for its su- 
perfluity of good cheer. We'll have him gasping with indigestion 
within a week, see if we don't." Then raising his voice, he an- 
swered the petition of Martha, by repeating her words, " May you 
give the little boy something to eat V and then added with a laugh, 
" By all manner of means, Miss Martha ; and," taking some half- 
demolished fragments off his own plate, " he may boast of feeding 
as well as his master. Here, Master Factory, catch!" And so 
saying, the benevolent owner of Dowling Lodge skilfully cut the 
air with half a pigeon, which, taking exactly the direction he in- 
tended, struck Michael in the middle of his forehead. Whatever 
might be the effect of this liberality of heart and hand out of 
doors, Sir Matthew had every reason to be satisfied with the result 
within. 

The whole Dowling family, with the exception of stupid Martha, 
' burst into a simultaneous shout of delight, while Dr. Crockley 
clapped his hands, and vociferated, " Bravo !" as loud as he could 
scream. 

Just at this moment, the great bell at the front door, and it was 
a very great bell, resounded along passage and halls with prodigious 
clamour. This is a sound which produces, in those who hear it, 
emotions varying according to their varying temperaments. Ge- 
nuinely fine, poco curante people, if they hear it, heed it not. 
Fussy folks, of whatever rank or station, prepare their looks and their 
books, themselves and their belongings, to receive the threatened 
visitation advantageously ; but in a mansion of such professional 
display as Dowling Lodge, a ring at the door-bell is an event of 
serious importance. In such an establishment, the luxuries, or 
even the comforts of the family, are confessedly of no importance 
at all, when placed in competition with the display of their 
grandeur; and upon the present occasion, the whole family has- 
tened to leave their unfinished repast, in order to receive the wel- 
come spectator of their fine clothes and fine furniture in the draw- 
ing-room. 

" My Lady Dowling, and her two light-coloured elder daughters, 
Sir Matthew, his eldest son, and his learned friend, succeeded in 
reaching their respective sofas and bergeres half a minute before 
the door was thrown open, and Lady Clarissa Shrimpton, Miss 
Brotherton, Miss Mogg, and Mr. Osmond Norval were an- 
nounced. 

Great, of course, and very zealous was the joy expressed by the 
Dowling family at the sight of their illustrious friend and her cor- 
tege. Miss Brotherton was, indeed of herself, or rather of her purse, 
a personage pretty sure of being well received every where ; but 



60 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

even Miss Mogg was (in yankee phrase) well shaken, and Mr. 
Osmond Norval gazed at by the young ladies, as an emanation 
from the rays that encircle the brow of Apollo ; while even the ex- 
quisite Augustus ventured, in compliment to his titled patroness, 
to shake him too, though he had never been introduced to him at 
Oxford. 

But the feelings of Sir Matthew, at this prompt reappearance of 
his fair and noble friend, were something vastly different from any 
thing his family could participate in, nor did Lady Clarissa mistake 
them. There was a look that spoke infinitely more than any tongue 
could utter, and a meaning in the silent pressure of the hand, con- 
firming the idea, which had often recurred to her during the night, 
that it would soon be necessary to make Sir Matthew understand 
the exact nature and extent of the flattering, but perfectly innocent 
preference she was conscious of feeling for him. 

This first delightful, but somewhat agitating moment over, Lady 
Clarissa hastened to explain the purpose of her visit. 

" You guess why I am come, do you not, Sir Matthew V she 
said, pointing to Mr. Osmond Norval. " Permit me to present to 
you, and your highly-educated family, this young votary of the 
muses, who, if my judgment errs not, may fairly claim competi- 
tion with the first poets of the age. Nor should we, of this remote 
neighbourhood, be insensible to the honour of being the first to 
assist in pluming the yet unfledged wing, which shall one day bear 
him aloft into the empyrean regions of eternal fame." 

Nothing could be more touching than the manner in which Mr. 
Osmond Norval pressed his hat between his two hands, and bowed 
low, low, low, to the noble lady who thus announced him. Sir 
Matthew, with a stride which, for the vigorous distance it carried 
him, might have been compared to that of the knave of hearts, ap- 
proached the young man, and strenuously pressing one of his 
slender hands in both his own capacious fists, attested the value he 
attached to her ladyship's introduction by saying, " Mr. Osmond 
Norval ! — I will not deny, that I do occasionally myself offer tri- 
bute at the muse's shrine ; and that being in some sort a brother of 
the craft, I most unfeignedly rejoice in making the acquaintance of 
a gentleman so distinguished in it as yourself. But that is not the 
feeling, sir, which principally leads me to tell you, that from this 
time forth, I shall hold you as one of my most esteemed friends — 
you understand me. That lady, sir," pointing to Lady Clarissa, 
" is a person whose lightest word ought to be law in this neighbour- 
hood, — and to me, is so. If you publish any works, put Sir Matthew 
Bowling's name down, sir, for fifty copies ; should you find yourself 
at any time in want of a library, pray remember that there is one 
of no very small limits at Dowling Lodge ; and your reception, sir, 
in my drawing-room, and at my dinner- table, will ever be such as 
befits me to bestow on one honoured by the patronage of Lady 
Clarissa Shrimpton." 

Before this speech was quite finished, Lady Dowling becoming 
rather fidgetty, ventured to mutter something about its being far 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 61 

better to sit down to talk ; but Miss Brothertoii was greatly too 
much amused by what was passing to hear her; and for Miss Mogg 
to sit while her patroness stood, was quite out of the question; so 
that Lady Dowling, and the too eldest Miss Dowlings, continued 
to stand like three finely-dressed flaxen-headed statues, to the end 
of it. 

Sir Matthew than led the high-born lady to a chair, while Miss 
Brotherton perceiving that her conversation with the knight was 
now reduced to a whisper, and that consequently there would be 
no more fun in listening to it, condescended at last to answer a few 
of the amiable inquiries after her health, which were addressed to 
her by Mr. Augustus and his two sisters. Meanwhile, the young 
Norval, with pensive eye intent on nature's beauties, stole his way 
to the open window, and there having twice or thrice passed his 
fingers through his long locks, which descendedjin disordered curls 
almost to his shoulders, and once and again buttoned and unbut- 
toned the broad shirt-collar which fell back, unrestrained by that 
most unintellectual ligature, a cravat, remained partly, it might be, 
to let the young ladies look at him, and partly to receive the fra- 
grant breeze of summer upon his brow. 

It was now that Dr. Crockley felt he was called upon to do 
something that might bring him into notice, and waddling up to 
the young poet, he addressed him with an air of incipient friend- 
ship, which seemed to say, i( And I too am somebody." 

" You will find this neighbourhood not very prolific, young gen- 
tleman, in such gifts of intellect as a poet requires in order to be 
duly appreciated. Nevertheless, I will not deny that there is 
amongst us a knot, a little knot, Mr. Norval, whom, upon further 
acquaintance, you may find not altogether uncongenial. For my- 
self, I may venture to say, that I am as warmly devoted to every 
subject, directly or indirectly, connected with the divine, ethereal, 
immaterial, intellectual part of our composite formation, as it is 
possible for a man to be, and it will give me pleasure, sir, to make 
your acquaintance." As this was spoken with energy, the fsultry 
season made itself felt under the exertion, and Dr. Crockley found 
it necessary so far to remember the viler portion of his composite 
formation, as to wipe his face and bald head assiduously. 
The poet bowed, but not as he had bowed to Lady Clarissa. 
Meanwhile, Lady Dowling, her light-coloured daughters, and 
Miss Mogg, sat profoundly silent upon two chairs and one sofa of 
the splendid apartment ; Miss Brotherton and Mr. Augustus con- 
tinued to talk about nothing, and Sir Matthew and Lady Clarissa 
ceased not to mutter, what none but themselves could hear, upon 
an ottoman, which stood in front of a distant window. If eye- 
beams could have interrupted a tete-a-tete, theirs would not have 
long continued to proceed undisturbed ; for the mistress of Dowling 
Lodge did certainly cast not a few anxious glances towards the 
master of it ; but it was not for that reason that he at length got 
up and rather hastily left the room. 



62 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

While all this was passing in the drawing-room, Martha Dow- 
ling" and Michael Armstrong remained alone together in the 
dining-room. 

The flying pigeon, impelled by the beneficent Sir Matthew, having 
hit the forehead of his highly-favoured protege at the very moment 
that the larum, announcing Lady Clarissa's arrival made itself 
heard, the greatly amused company left the room before it was 
possible to ascertain what would become of it. 

The child " caught it ere it came to the ground ;" but having 
done so, held it by one leg with an air of very comical 'indecision, 
till Dr. Crockley, who respectfully walked the last out of the room, 
shut the door behind him. 

The eyes of the factory-boy and the ugly girl then met. " Come 
to the table, my dear," said Martha; i( and if you like that bird, 
eat it — here is a plate and knife and fork for you ; but if you like 
any thing else better, leave it, and tell me what you will have." 

Michael opened his magnificent black eyes, and looked earnestly 
at her. He approached the table, laid down the half-dissected 
pigeon, but said not a word. 

" You would like something else better, would you not?" said 
Martha, smiling at him. 

"I don't know," answered Michael, returning the smile. 

" You don't know? — cannot you tell what you should like?" 

" No ma'am, if you please ; I don't know what any of it is." 

" My dear child, it is all very good, I believe, only you know 
some people like one thing, and some another. Little boys gene- 
rally like something very sweet. Here is some cake, what do you 
say to that ?" 

** I know what I should like best," said Michael. 

" Do you ? — then you shall have it, if you will tell me what it 
is." 

" Something good for mother," said the child, blushing violently ; 
" but you must send me, and order me to take it to her, or else it 
will be stealing it" 

" Very well, I will send something to her ; but you must eat 
something yourself first. What shall it be, Michael ?" This ar- 
rangement seemed to put the boy into a state of perfect ecstasy ; 
he clapped his hands, raised one foot, and then the other, with 
childish glee, and exclaimed in an accent from which all timidity 
had fled, " Oh ! dear, oh ! dear, how nice !" 

" What, the cake ? — or the grapes ? — or what ?" 

" Taking it to mother ! Taking it to mother !" cried Michael. 

" Then you love mother very much, Michael?" said Martha, 
drawing the child towards her, and kissing his smooth dark fore- 
head. Michael nodded his head, and nestled closer to her. 

" Well, then, never mind about the cake at present ; but I must 
find a little basket, must I not ? — I will give you a basket if you 
will take care of it and bring it back to me, because perhaps we 
may want it again. — There, you may eat that if you are hungry, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 63 

while I am gone away — I shall be back again in a minute." So 
saying, she placed some bread and meat before him, and left the 
room. 

Michael had by no means lost his appetite by his morning walk 
to Hoxley-lane, and being in excellent spirits to boot, he sat down 
and began to devour what had been set before him with very zealous 
eagerness. 

He had not, however, done one-half of what he was capable of 
performing, when another door, opposite to the one by which 
Martha had made her exit, opened, and Sir Matthew Dowling 
walked in. 

Michael's knife and active fingers remained suspended midway 
between his mouth and the plate ; the colour forsook his cheek, 
and his eye sunk as if unable to meet that of his munificent 
patron. 

" What stuffing still, you greedy little rascal ? What have you 
touched with your nasty factory fingers ? Not the grapes, I hope V 

Michael tried to say " no," but did not succeed in producing 
the sound ; so contented himself by letting the forefinger of his 
left hand drop into his plate to show how he had been engaged. 

" Don't look so like a fool, you oaf/' said Sir Matthew, taking 
him by the shoulder, and shaking him with some vivacity. " You 
are to come along with me, do you hear that ? and see a lot of fine 
folks, and to look up at them too, do you hear that ; and by G — d 
if you blubber, or look grumpish, I'll have you strapped ten times 
over, worse than you ever saw done at the factory. Come along ! — 
and mind what I have promised, for I'll keep it, and worse, that you 
may rely." 

Michael behaved like a little hero. He remembered the promised 
basket, and the voice that had told him he should have it; he re- 
membered Hoxley-lane too, and his mother, and Teddy, and their 
morsel of dry bread; so he walked manfully along beside Sir 
Matthew, and when they reached the drawing-room door, and his 
benefactor stretched forth a hand to take his, he yielded it to him, 
with scarcely any perceptible shudder. 

Sir Matthew walked some steps forward, with the boy in his 
hand, into the drawing-room, and then standing quite still, pointed 
to the child, and said, " Lady Clarissa ! behold the factory-boy !" 

Nothing could be more skilful than this form of presentation, for 
it told Lady Clarissa every thing, and Lady Dowling nothing. 
Lady Clarissa sprung from her seat and ran towards the child. " Is 
it possible !" she exclaimed, with every appearance of violent 
emotion. * 4 Oh ! Sir Matthew !" these last words were audible 
only to the knight and the little boy; but as the latter could make 
nothing of them, and the former almost any thing he pleased, it was 
evident that the lady was as well skilled in saying more than met 
the ear, as the gentleman. 

" Indeed, indeed," said Lady Clarissa, drawing forth another of 
the coronetted handkerchiefs, " indeed, indeed, this is a noble act, 
Sir Matthew !" 



64 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Here her ladyship pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, and 
remained in the eloquent silence of that position for a moment, 
then raising herself from the softness that, as she hinted to Sir 
Matthew, in a whisper, she felt stealing upon her., she called to Mr. 
Osmond Norval, and said in a tone audible to all present, " Os- 
mond Norval ! favoured of Heaven, and the muse ! Let not this 
beautiful subject escape you ! Look at this pretty boy — look at 
the delicate air of aristocratic refinement which pervades his person. 
Osmond, the earth has not made her daily circuit round the sun 
since I beheld this child the very type of - sordid wretchedness; 
would you know the hand that wrought this wondrous change? 
Would you learn what heart suggested it? Behold them here !" 
and Lady Clarissa laid her noble fingers on the coat-sleeve of Sir 
Matthew Dowling. 

" Her ladyship does Sir Matthew Dowling no more than justice 
Mr. Norval," said Doctor Crockley approaching the group. " This 
is an act that ought to be given to fame, and, if Sir Matthew him- 
self does not object to it, I would suggest its being recorded by 
your pen, in such a form as may give it general circulation. 

The poet pressed his hand upon his heart, and bowed profoundly, 
and then, raising the other hand to his forehead, he stood for some 
time silently meditating on the theme thus offered to him. During 
this interval, the different groups which surrounded him formed a 
most charming picture. The young man himself stood apart, and 
unconsciously, perhaps, became the centre to which every eye-beam 
converged. Lady Clarissa and Sir Matthew, side by side, and, at 
no great distance from him, awaited his reply ; her ladyship with 
an affectionate smile on her lip, that spoke at once her confidence 
in his power and will to do what she required of him. Sir Mat- 
thew's expression of countenance could not be read so plainly; 
it was grave, but it might be doubtful whether its gravity proceeded 
from displeasure that the answer should be delayed, or solely from 
the deep interest the subject possessed for him. Lady Dowling, with 
her hands crossed before her, was seated on a sofa exactly in front 
of them, with her light eyes rather more widely open than usual, 
looking straight forward, and her small features seeming to indicate 
that she was not in the sweetest humour in the world. Dr. Crock- 
ley, his hands in his waistcoat-pockets, and his short legs rather 
widely extended, in what dancing-masters term the second position, 
swayed himself with nice balance to and fro, as if measuring the 
interval of suspense by seconds vibrated by his person. Miss 
Arabella Dowling, and Miss Harriet Dowling sat close together 
upon an ottoman, "like to a double cherry," of the Bigarreau 
kind, with their four eyes so fixed upon the poet that it seemed as if 
they had but one heart and one soul between them ; and on this sub- 
ject at least, their hearts and souls, if not one, were the same ; for 
they had both, and at the very same instant, fallen violently in love 
with Mr. Osmond Norval. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 65 

In a deep arm-chair, in which she had almost buried herself, sat, 
or rather lay, little Miss Brotherton, almost convulsed with laughter, 
and with her pocket-handkerchief by no means elegantly applied to 
her mouth (being nearly half of it within it), in the hope of stifling, 
at least, the sound of her mirth, while Mr. Augustus leant in an 
attitude of very distinguished elegance on the back of her chair. 

A little behind her appeared Miss Mogg, who was in truth neither 
sitting nor standing, but perched very insecurely on the extreme 
edge of a couch, which uncomfortable attitude she had chosen from 
not feeling quite certain whether she ought to stand like Lady 
Clarissa, or sit like Miss Brotherton. The first she feared was too 
dignified and distinguished for her ; the last too comfortable, and 
she deserved credit for hitting upon a position so far removed from 
either; and lastly, very near the door by which he had entered, and 
to which he had slunk back he knew not how, stood Michael. 

This picturesque state of things having lasted quite long enough, 
Osmond Norval raised his eyes from the ground to the face of Lady 
Clarissa, and making a sudden step forwards, dropped on one knee 
and seized her hand. He attempted to speak, but for some time 
his voice appeared perfectly choked by emotion. At last, how- 
ever, he recovered the power of articulation and said, " Such a sub- 
ject ! — Oh, heaven ! — at your bidding too ! Best and dearest Lady 
Clarissa ! Can you doubt that all my power and strength will be 
put in requisition for it ? But — may I ask — Is it to be published 
by subscription V 

Without immediately replying to this interesting, and to Mr. 
Osmond Norval most important inquiry, Lady Clarissa suddenly 
clapped her hands together with a sort of vehement enthusiasm that 
looked very like delirium. Even Sir Matthew, though his intimacy 
with her had more than once made him the witness to some extraor*- 
dinary freaks, looked at her with astonishment ; Lady Dowling's 
eyes were more widely opened than ever ; Miss Mogg instinctively 
thrust her hand into her bag in search of a smelling-bottle ; and 
Miss Brotherton took her handkerchief out of her mouth, and 
looked grave. 

" I have got it ! Oh, I have got it !" she exclaimed. " What a 
delicious idea ! — Let us sit down ! Mogg, push forward that couch, 
child. — Poor girl ! She really is almost too fat to move. Gracious 
heaven, Sir Matthew ! what would become of my etherealized 
spirit if it were so encumbered ? But sit down, — sit down all of 
you. — Norval ! Place yourself on that tabouret. — Mary Brotherton ! 
Draw near and listen. — And all the rest of you give ear to what I am 
going to say, and answer the questions I shall ask with freedom and 
sincerity." 

Thus conjured, every one in the room, except Lady Dowling, who 
stirred not an inch, drew round the place where Lady Clarissa had 
seated herself, and prepared with considerable curiosity to hear what 
she was going to say. 

" Is not amusement the very soul of life?" she began. 

F 



66 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" No doubt of it, my lady," from the lips of Dr. Crockley, was 
the most articulate of the many acquiescent answers which fol- 
lowed. 

" Is not a country neighbourhood fearfully, lamentably diffident 
in this ?" pursued the animated inquirer. 

" There cannot be two opinions on that point," replied Sir Mat- 
thew, with authority. 

" And is it not the duty of neighbours, residing within reach of 
each other as we do, to exert every facility with which nature has 
endowed them, in order as much as possible to soften to each other 
the privations to which their distance from the metropolis obliges 
them to submit?" 

In reply to this demand, there was a perfect clamour of approba- 
tion. " Well then," continued Lady Clarissa, " if such be your 
feelings, I am certain of success in the project that has come, like 
a spirit of light borne upon silver wings to visit my dull spirit. This 
noble act of Sir Matthew's must not pass away like an ordinary 
deed that is [hardly performed, ere it be forgotten. No! it shall 
live in story — it shall live in song — it shall live again in action ! 
Norval, dear gifted friend, did you ever write a drama V 

" Occasionally a scene or two, Lady Clarissa." 

" That is enough, dear Osmond. I ask not a hackneyed worn-out 
pen. I will relate to him, *Sir Matthew, this interesting anecdote 
exactly as it occurred — he shall dramatize it — perhaps introduce an 
episode, or underplot, to increase the business of the scene — we 
will all act it," and here Lady Clarissa gracefully bowed to the 
whole party, " and all the neighbourhood shall be assembled to 
enjoy the fete. What say you to this, Sir Matthew ?" 

Upon my word, my lady, I think it is one of the cleverest and 
most agreeable ideas that ever entered a lady's head. If you and 
Mr. Norval will arrange the drama, Lady Clarissa, I will take care 
to have one of the rooms fitted up as a theatre, and depend upon 
it we shall be in no want of actors. Upon my word I never liked 
any idea so much in my life." 

" Will it not be pleasant, Mary Brotherton ?" said Lady Clarissa, 
in her most caressing tone, to the heiress. 

" Very pleasant, indeed," replied the young lady. " I should 
ask no better fun." 

" And what does my Lady Dowling say ?" resumed Lady Clarissa, 
with that stiffness of manner with which her ladyship now and then 
refreshed the memory of her plebeian friends, as to the difference 
of rank between them." 

" Oh ! dear me, I am sure I don't know," replied Lady Dowling, 
looking frightened. 

" Well ! we must not torment Lady Dowling by forcing her to 
act, Sir Matthew. There cannot be a doubt that we shall have 
volunteers in abundance. You will act, Mary Brotherton, will you 
not?" 

" Act? — Most assuredly I will act, Lady Clarissa," replied the 
heiress. " People as much at liberty to please themselves as I am, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 67 

seldom refuse to aid and abet a scheme so exceedingly full of 
amusement as this seems to be." 

" We will set such an example," cried Dr. Crockley, rubbing his 
hands joyously, " that every county in England shall hear of us 
with envy — I know what Sir Matthew can make of a thing if he 
takes to it. Leave him alone for giving the go-by to all the world. 
Write away, young gentleman, write away; depend upon it you'll 
have a theatre, and actors too, that will do you justice." 

At this interesting moment, just as the fair-haired Miss Dowlings 
began to whisper to each other something about characters and 
dresses, and Mr. Augustus to whisper to Miss Brotherton his hope 
that he should have to act a great deal with her, the great bell sent 
forth another peal, upon which Lady Clarissa held up her finger in 
token of silence ; and before the new visiter entered, all the bright 
sallies of the party were as effectually extinguished as if they had 
been supplied by gas, which was suddenly turned off. 



CHAPTER VII. 

A POPULAR CHARACTER MORE BENEVOLENCE INTERESTING IN- 
TELLIGENCE RECEIVED WITH BECOMING ANIMATION A SELECT 

COMMITTEE A FAREWELL FULL OF MEANING. 

The person who produced this very powerful effect was a lady 
not particularly distinguished either by wealth or station ; but she 
seemed to possess the faculty of finding her way into every house 
within her reach, whether the owner of it desired her presence or 
not. 

Mrs. Gabberlywas the widow of a clergyman, who had formerly been 
vicar of the parish of St. Mary's, Ashleigh, and having made herself 
the very largest acquaintance that ever was enjoyed by any country 
lady without a carriage, she determined upon continuing amongst 
them after her husband died, as it might have taken her, she said, 
more years than she was likely to live, before she could expect to 
make so many friends all over again. She therefore, on leaving 
the vicarage, contented herself with a very small house, as near the 
town as possible, and went on very much as she had done before, 
only having one maid-servant instead of two, and contenting herself 
with a donkey-chair and a very little boy to drive it, instead of a 
one-horse chaise, and a steady man-servant of all work. 

Considering the wealth and splendour of the neighbourhood in 
which accident had first placed her, and to which choice now held 
her bound, it may be looked upon as a matter of wonder that she 
should have made any intimacies at all. But, though the vicarage 

f 2 



68 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

of St. Mary's, Ashleigh, was far enough from being richly endowed, 
and the private fortune of the late incumbent not such as to 
enable him to approach to any thing like an equality in his style of 
living to even the least wealthy among the manufacturers in the dis- 
trict, there is still a species of respect for the profession of a 
clergyman, which opens to him and his family the houses of many, 
greatly their superiors in point of wealth ; and it therefore pretty 
generally depends on the clergy themselves, whether they are on in- 
timate terms with their neighbours, or not. 

Now Mr. Gabberly, or more properly speaking, Mrs. Gabberly, 
who in strength of will had ever been his far better half, did greatly 
desire to be on intimate terms with her neighbours. Rich or poor, 
gentle or simple, old or young, she was determined to be intimate 
with them all. And she was intimate with them all, very intimate. 
One word more, and Mrs. Gabberly shall be left to speak for her- 
self, which she was certainly able to do, with as little impediment of 
any kind, as most people. Mrs. Gabberly was the daughter of a 
physician ; and from her earliest years had acquired so decided a 
taste for the theory and practice of medicine, that she could never 
wean herself entirely from it, but was thought by many to let it still 
occupy rather too large a share of her conversation and thoughts. 
Nevertheless, Mrs. Gabberly was exceedingly popular, for though 
her discourse ran much upon bruises and bowels, rickets and 
rheums, spasms and spines, it ran also upon matters more attractive. 
If she could not tell what every body for three miles round had for 
dinner on the very day on which she was speaking, it was a hundred to 
one but she could tell, within a cutlet or a hash, what they had been 
all eating for a week before. She knew, with an approach to cor- 
rectness that was perfectly astonishing, the amount of every body's 
expenditure, and every body's debts ; could tell to the fraction of a 
new ribbon, how many bonnets each lady consumed per annum ; 
and was perfectly au fait of the quantity of corn and hay got through 
in every body's stables. No flirtation ever escaped either her eyes 
or her tongue, and the Morning Post was a less faithful record of 
fine parties, than the tablets of her comprehensive memory. 

The Dowling family was aware of all this ; and each in their way 
had a peculiar value for her society, for Mrs. Gabberly knew how 
to be all things to all men, women, and children; but, at the present 
moment, it was Sir Matthew who felt the most decided movement 
of satisfaction at beholding her sharp black eyes, brisk step, and 
eager manner of reconnoitring every individual present, as she en- 
tered the room. 

" Here is my general advertiser," thought the knight, as he ex- 
tended his huge hand to welcome her. " We will have a theatrical 
representation that shall immortalize my charity, and here's the one 
that shall act the part of Fame, and trumpet it round the country." 

" My goodness ! what a charming party of you is got all together 
this morning," exclaimed Mrs. Gabberly, smiling and bowing, and 
nodding, and courtesying, to every body in succession, all the time 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 69 

^that Sir Matthew continued his cordial hand-shaking. " Now you 
must just tell me what you are all about, for if you don't I shall 
die, and there's the truth." 

" No, no, Mrs. Gabberly, you shan't die, if we can save your 
life," replied Sir Matthew, in his most jovial tone. " We are a gay 
and happy party, at this moment, I do believe, one and all," and 
here the knight thought proper to send a glance after little Michael, 
who, notwithstanding his fine clothes, was looking pale and sad 
enough, in the most distant corner from the principal group to which 
he had been able to creep. 

The experienced eye of Sir Matthew read past suffering and 
present terror in his speaking features, and he cursed the trembling 
child in his heart of hearts. But Sir Matthew Dowling might have 
removed as many coatings as the grave-digger in Hamlet, ere the 
looker-on could have penetrated so far ; and it must have been a 
quick observer that could have detected the sort of lurid glare that 
for half an instant gleamed in the savage look he cast upon the boy. 
It was for no longer space that his joyous gaiety was obscured, and 
he then turned again his admiring glances upon the Lady Clarissa, 
and resumed his speech. 

" This is the person, Mrs. Gabberly, who must let you into the 
mystery. You must entreat her ladyship to be pleased to inform 
you what it is she is going to make us all do." 

" Well then, I hope her ladyship won't refuse. You won't be so 
cruel, will you, my lady ?" 

" No, certainly !" replied Lady Clarissa smiling complacently on 
the knight. " If Sir Matthew complies with my proposal, I shall 
have no objection to its being proclaimed to all the world." 

And here glances were exchanged between the knight and the 
lady, perfectly intelligible to each other, and which said very dis- 
tinctly, ," Ah ! Lady Clarissa 1" on the one part ; and, " Oh ! Sir 
Matthew ! on the other. 

" Speak then, my lady !" said the gallant manufacturer with a 
low bow ; " and whatever you shall say, shall be law." 

" Now then, ladies and gentlemen ! all of you give ear ; for not 
Mrs. Gabberly alone, but every one present, should pay attention to 
what I am about to say." And here Lady Clarissa turned her eyes 
round about her in search of the hero of the scene. " W T here is 
the little boy ?" said she, in a tone of great theatrical feeling. 

" Come here, my dear little fellow !" said Sir Matthew, again 
turning his glances towards Michael, and now looking amiable and 
benignant with all his might. But the child seemed to wither be- 
neath this sunshine, even more conspicuously than when he had 
been left in the shade ; and it was not till the knight made some 
gigantic strides forwards to meet him, that poor Michael formed the 
desperate courage necessary to bring him from his corner to the 
spot where his noble benefactress stood. Nay, the last steps were 
not made without the helping hand of Sir Matthew, which heavily 
laid upon his shoulder performed a twofold office ; ostensibly ca- 



70 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



ressing, while, in truth, it forcibly impelled the little trembler for- 
ward. 

" Now then, Mrs. Gabberly," said Lady Clarissa, " look at this 
interesting little fellow ! It is he who is the hero of out fete" 

" Indeed ! And pray what may the young gentleman's name 
be?" said Mrs. Gabberly. 

" Is not that delicious V cried Lady Clarissa. " Oh, Sir Mat- 
thew ! how I envy you your feelings ! Note that, dear Norval. The 
touch is exquisitely dramatic, and must on no account be omitted. 
This young gentleman, Mrs. Gabberly," continued Lady Clarissa, 
with increasing animation, " this young gentleman as you most 
naturally call him, was a few short hours ago, a wretched, ragged 
beggar-boy ! Sir Matthew Dowling, from motives, that I dare not 
wound his generous heart by thus publicly dwelling upon, has 
rescued him from poverty and destruction. This deed, so beautiful 
in itself, and so beneficial in its influence as an example, is about to 
be immortalized as it ought to be, by the pen, the rapid, brilliant, 
touching pen of my young friend, Mr. Osmond Norval. He has 
undertaken to dramatize this charming trait of benevolence, and 
our excellent Sir Matthew, has consented to tit up a little 
theatre for the representation of it, at which all the neighbourhood 
are to be present as invited guests." 

" Well (now ! If ever I heard any thing so delightful as that!" 
exclaimed Mrs. Gabberly, clapping her hands in ecstasy. " Are 
the cards sent out, Sir Matthew V 

" Not yet, Mrs. Gabberly," replied the knight, with his most 
friendly smile ; " but depend upon it that when they are, you will 
not be forgotten." 

" Well now, my dear Lady Dowling ! I am sure you are always 
so kind to me !" cried the delighted Mrs. Gabberly, making her 
way towards the sofa, where sat the lady of the mansion in frown- 
ing state ; " I should not wonder if you were to contrive a bed for 
me on this great occasion, it would be just like you. And oh ! my ! 
I have got such a quantity of things I want to tell you, but I can't 
stop one instant longer now, if you'd give me the whole world. So, 
good by to you all, my dears ! I've heard something about you, 
Miss Arabella, but it must keep, my dear ; and I've a secret for 
Miss Harriet's ear, too, when we have got leisure. But, good by, 
good by ! Good morning, my Lady Clarissa," and away bustled Sir 
Matthew's public advertiser to spread the glorious news of private 
theatricals at Dowling Lodge, throughout the country. She paused 
for one moment, however, as she passed by Michael ; and putting 
her hand upon his head, so as to make him turn his face up towards 
her, she said, after looking at him very earnestly, 

" Well now, for a beggar-child, he is to be sure the genteelest- 
looking little fellow, I ever did see ; but, perhaps that may be owing 
to his being so pale and thin, which is certainly a great deal more 
elegant than fatness and red cheeks, though it don't quite seem so 
healthy." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 71 

" Oh ! he is in perfect health, I do assure you, Mrs. Gabberly, as 
you would have said, if you had seen the dear little fellow eating his 
luncheon with usjust now," said the amiable Sir Matthew chucking 
him under the chin. " But, by the way," continued the merry 
knight, " I rather suspect that I called him away before he had 
quite finished, and that's what it is makes him look so doleful", 
isn't it, dear ? Well ! never be ashamed about it — go back again, 
there's a darling 1 and don't forget to take a nice bit home to 
mother and brother — d'ye hear, Michael ? Pretty fellow ! how he 
blushes !" 

And here the benevolent Sir Matthew himself opened the door 
leading to the dining-room, and playfully pushed the " darling " 
through it. 

" Well now !" again exclaimed the astonished Mrs. Gabberly 
" did ever any body see such a beautiful spectacle of charity as 
that?" 

And without waiting for any reply, the brisk little lady made her 
exit without further pause or delay of any kind, and so completely 
charged " to the top of her bent" with wonderful intelligence, that 
she actually suffered from the repletion till half a dozen gossippings 
had relieved it. 

Meanwhile, the party she left resolved themselves into a commit- 
tee of management upon the business in hand. Mr. Osmond 
Norval was entreated to urge his eloquent pen with the greatest pos- 
sible rapidity ; while on his part, Sir Matthew promised that the 
necessary workmen should immediately be employed in preparing 
one of the largest rooms in the house as a theatre. 

When the consultation reached this point, Lady Dowling sud- 
denly rose and left the room ; but this circumstance did not appear 
to produce much emotion in any of the party, and they remained 
together in a most delightful state of hubbub and excitement till 
the heiress grew tired, and ventured to hint that she thought it 
would be best for her to drive home first, and then send her carriage 
back for the accommodation of her noble friend. 

This proposal brought the meeting to a conclusion ; but not till 
Lady Clarissa had confessed in a whisper to Sir Matthew, that she 
never in her whole life remembered to have taken any thing that 
did her so much good, as the delicious grapes he had sent home 
with her the evening before. 



72 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER VIII. 

A VERY INNOCENT TETE-A-TETE, BUT IN WHICH MISS MARTHA 

DOWLING COMES TO A WRONG CONCLUSION AN UNFORTUNATE 

EMBASSY AN AGREEABLE EXCURSION A PHILOSOPHICAL DIS- 
QUISITION A VISIT TO THE FACTORY. 

While these things were going on in ray Lady Dowling's morn- 
ing drawing-room, the forgotten Martha — forgotten at least by all 
but little Michael — employed herself in seeking such a basket, as 
might answer the purpose of a viaticum between the object of her 
father's charity, and the mother and brother of whom he had so 
fondly spoken. Having at length succeeded in her quest, she re- 
turned to the dining-room, and was almost as much disappointed 
at finding the object of her good-natured exertions flown, as the 
poor child himself had been, when obliged to quit the room to 
which this kind friend had promised to return. But Martha, 
though not a person very highly favoured by circumstances, was 
nevertheless better off than Michael, inasmuch as by keeping out of 
sight she could pretty generally contrive to remain where she 
chose, and do what she liked. These enviable privileges enabled 
her now to sit down at one of the large open windows of the dining- 
room, and to draw from her unseemly-sized pocket, a volume of 
Shakspeare, with which she determined to beguile the time till the 
boy should return, or till by some means or other, she might be able 
to discover what had become of him. 

When therefore, impelled by the playful, but very effectual im- 
pulse of Sir Matthew's shove, Michael once more entered the 
diniug-parlour, he had the satisfaction of being again greeted by 
the friendly eye and friendly voice, whicrf had already so greatly 
cheered him. 

" So, here you are again, my little man," said Martha, repocket- 
ing her book, and rising ; " I thought you would hardly forget 
the basket : see, here it is, and now you shall help me pack it." 

The help thus asked for, was afforded by the happy child's hold- 
ing the basket in his hand, as he followed her round the table, 
while with a smile that spoke as much pleasure as his own, she se- 
lected all sorts of good things to put into it. 

" There ! now I don't think we can put in any more, Michael ; 
so set off, and carry it to your mother." 

With eyes beaming rapture, and little hands that trembled with 
delight, Michael closed the lid of the basket, and proceeded to- 
wards the door; but ere he had fully reached it, he stopped short, 
and addressing Martha, in a tone as fearless and confidential as if 
she had been his sister, he said, 

" But what d'ye think about Teddy ? Mightn't I change into my 
old clothes again, and just step into the factory for one minute? 
Teddy can't almost never eat the dinner as we takes to the factory, 
and a bit of this would do him so much good ! — May I V 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 73 

M Upon my word, Michael, I am rather puzzled what to say," re- 
plied his friend ; " as papa has ordered you to have these clothes, 
he might not be pleased at your taking them off again, and it would 
be a great pity to make him angry with you when he is so very good 
and kind, wouldn't it?" 

Michael hung his head, and said nothing. 

" But why need you change your clothes, my dear boy? — I dare 
say Teddy would be very proud to see you look so nice." 

Still Michael answered not, but began assiduously picking to 
pieces the handle of Martha's delicate basket. 

" Don't do that, dear," said Martha, approaching, and taking 
the offending hand in hers ; " but tell me what you are thinking 
about?" 

" I am thinking," said Michael, " that if I walked into the midst 
of 'em this way, and up to poor Teddy, in his dirty ragged clothes, 
it would look" — and here he stopped without finishing the sentence. 

" It would look, how ? — as if you were proud, perhaps ?" said 
Martha. 

The child shook his head. 

" No, not that. Teddy would not think that," he replied. 

" What would he think, then? — Tell me all that is passing in 
your little head, and then I shall be able to advise you." 

" Why, he'd think," said Michael, and tears started as he spoke — 
" he'd think that he and I could never be right down brothers any 
more." 

Martha involuntarily kissed the little face that was turned up to 
hers, but replied, laughingly, 

" Oh ! that's foolish, Michael; do you think that a fine jacket 
could separate two little brothers that love each other ? — I think I 
could love you quite as well in a shabby coat, as in a fine one." 

Michael looked at her very earnestly for a minute or two, and 
then said, almost in a whisper, " Is Sir Matthew Dowling, as owns 
our factory, your father ?" 

" Yes, Michael," replied Martha, colouring from some painful 
feeling which the expression of the boy's speaking features had given 
rise to. The child coloured too, but said, with good courage, 

" Please, ma'am, I should love Teddy just as well, and Teddy 
would love me, only the others may-be would mock at him and me 
too — and I know Teddy could not bear it." 

" Then they would not be as good children as I think you are. 
But tell me, Michael, something about the mill : papa has neveiylet 
us see it yet, but I believe it is only because mamma thinks it is a 
dirty place. Is it very dirty, Michael ?" 

'* Yes, please ma'am." 

" And what makes it so, my dear? The cotton that goes into it 
looks as white as snow. I never can get any body to tell me any 
thing about a mill, but I think it must be very curious — and I want 
to know, Michael, what good such very little creatures as you can 
do there ; yet I have heard papa say, that he pays a vast quantity of 
money to quite little children, and that's the reason, he says, that 



74 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the factories are such a blessing to the country. You get wages, 
don't you, my little fellow ?" 

" Yes, ma'am ; I gets two shilling a week, and Teddy eighteen- 
pence, 'cause he's weaker." 

"That is not much, to be sure; but it's better than nothing, 
isn't it?" 

" Yes, ma'am." 

" Do the children in general like it V 

" Like what, ma'am?" 

lt Working in the factory, my dear, and getting money for their 
poor parents." 

" The children likes to have the wages," replied Michael. 

" But perhaps they do not like to do any work for them, 
Michael ?" said Martha, laughing. " That's what papa says. But 
it is not right, my dear, for little boys and girls to be always at play, 
you know. Don't you think, Michael that it is proper for poor 
people's children to do something to help themselves if they can ?" 

" Yes, ma'am," said Michael, but in so low a tone, that it was as 
much as Martha could do to hear it ; and so melancholy a look ac- 
companied the words, that she could not help thinking there was a 
great deal of truth in what she had constantly heard repeated by 
most of her father's friends and neighbours, as well as himself — 
namely, that the factory children were a race of very idle, ungrateful 
little creatures ; spoilt by the high wages and indulgence they re- 
ceived, and quite unconscious of the inestimable advantages they 
possessed over all the other children in the British dominions. 

But, nevertheless, though this disagreeable conviction pressed 
very painfully upon her, Martha could not help feeling very k ndly 
disposed towards little Michael ; and upon his presently saying, 
" Shall I go to mother and Teddy, if you please, ma'am?" she al- 
most forgot all the naughtiness she attributed to him and his fra- 
ternity, and only remembering the disadvantage that any disobedience 
to her father's wishes might bring upon him, said, " Wait one 
moment, Michael, and I will find papa, and ask if you may change 
your dress, in order to visit your brother in the factory." 

So saying, she left the room, and having ascertained that the 
visiters were gone, ventured to seek her father in the drawing-room ; 
where she found him deep in consultation with Dr. Crockley, his two 
eldest daughters, and his son, as to the possibility of converting the 
school-room into a theatre : all being of opinion that the great draw- 
ing-room must be reserved for the ball, and the dining-room for the 
supper, which it was agreed on all sides must follow the representa- 
tion. 

. " May I speak to you, papa ?" said Martha, timidly, on perceiving 
that the whole party were exceedingly earnest upon some theme 
or other. 

" Oh ! goodness, Martha, don't come to plague us now !" exclaimed 
Arabella. 

" It is very odd, but Martha always does come in the way of every 
thing," said Harriet. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 75 

" I wish you were married or buried, child !" cried the lively 
Augustus ; "for you make a monstrous bad hand at playing the young 
lady of fashion. Upon my life you grow fatter every day. Doesn't 
she, doctor ? I wish you would dose her a little." 

" That Miss Martha is a little opaque, I will not deny," replied 
Dr. Crockley, familiarly coming behind her, and measuring the ex- 
panse of her waist with his two hands. 

" May I speak to you, papa ?" repeated the patient Martha, quietly 
retreating from the jocose hands of Dr. Crockley, but apparently quite 
insensible to all the other attacks. 

" What do you want to say, Martha ?" demanded Sir Matthew. 
Thus much encouraged, she drew near and whispered to him, 
" The little boy that you have taken in, papa, wants to know if he 
may put on his old clothes again, and go to speak to his brother in 
the factory?" 

" Do you hear this, doctor?" exclaimed Sir Matthew ; " the boy 
wants to go back to the factory'again. Isn't that an answer to all 
the trash that people have been trying to get up about their being 
over- worked ? It is just like 'em — that's the very model of a factory 
child — do what you will, you can never content 'em." 

" The chap want's to get back to the factory ?" said Dr. Crockley, 
addressing himself to Martha, with an accent that indicated surprise. 
" That's curious enough, any how." 

" No, sir, I do not believe he wants to do any more than speak to 
his brother, who is at work there — he wanted to take him something 
that was left at luncheon, papa." 

" And to show off his own good living to the factory ? That's it, 
I suspect, doctor ; one can understand that — and what do you say 
to it ? I should have no objection, I think ; what's your opinion ? 
only I don't see the fun of his going in his old rags, if he went as 
you saw him just now, it would make some fun, wouldn't it ?" 

" Capital, by Jove !" replied the doctor. " How quick you are. 
Sir Matthew ! you seize every thing in a moment. What do you say 
to our going along with him ? Mightn't we catch a hint or two, as 
to how things were going on?" 

" If I'm quick, Crockley, upon my soul you # are not slow," re- 
plied the knight. " You've got your horse here, of course?" The 
doctor nodded assent. " Then I will order mine, and we'll ride down 
to the mill together. So get along, Martha, and tell the boy that I 
will take him to the factorv with me, but that he is not to change his 
clothes." 

Martha felt quite aware that she had not executed her commission 
successfully. But there was no help for it, and therefore with the 
best grace she could, she told her little client the result of it. 

The whole aspect of the boy changed as he heard it, and, as if 
instinctively, he placed the precious basket, that till now he had 
continued to hold firmly in his hand, upon a table near him. 

" But take your basket, Michael," said the kind-hearted Martha, 
in a voice that was intended to cheer him ; "lam sure papa won't 
be angry at your doing that, for I told him about it." 
" No, please ma'am, I'd rather not," said Michael. 



76 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Well, then, go into the hall, by that door, and wait till Sir 
Matthew comes through. Perhaps he will speak to you about it, 
and at any rate you had better carry it as far as that/' 

The child obeyed her, and taking up again the treasure he no 
longer valued, passed out into the hall : but before Sir Matthew and 
his friend entered it, Michael had put the worthless basket out of 
sight. 

Hardly had he done so, when he heard the coarse laugh of Sir 
Matthew and the respondent titter of the doctor approaching. The 
little fellow started, and jumped aside, in order to place himself out 
of their way ; but the knight, striding to the place where he stood, 
seized him by the shoulder with his hand, while with a vigorous 
action of his enormous foot, he sent him forward towards the hcuse- 
door. This feat, which was performed with considerable dexterity, 
met its reward, in the shout of laughter with which Dr. Crockley 
welcomed it. " By Jove, Sir Matthew !" he exclaimed, as soon as he 
had recovered his breath ; " there is nothing like you on the face 
of God's earth. — It is a confounded monopoly though, let me tell you. 
No man has a right to be the deepest reasoner, the best jester, and 
the most finished man of taste of his age. It's monstrous, Sir 
knight, and a conspiracy against you would be a very honest plot." 

And as he spoke he held his sides, as if still suffering from the 
effects of his excessive merriment. 

A servant who followed the facetious pair now opened the door, 
and on the broad esplanade of gravel before it a couple of grooms 
were holding the gentlemen's horses. As soon as they were seated 
in their saddles, with a mounted attendant behind them, the great 
manufacturer turned round his head to seek the object of his charity. 
Michael stood doubting and trembling on the lowest step of the 
portico, while a faint hope fluttered at his heart, that the grand 
gentlemen would ride away and forget him; but it was quickly 
chased by the voice of Sir Matthew, who, bringing his horse's head 
so close upon the child, as to touch him/ while he seemed almost to 
shrink into the pillar by which he stood, to escape it, said in a voice, 
the jeering tone of which again almost convulsed Dr. Crockley with 
laughter, 

" Pray, young gentleman, may you happen to know the way to 
Brookford factory V* 

The boy looked out upon the wide-spreading park; and though, 
despite the carefully-chosen position of the mansion, many towering 
grim-looking chimney cones were seen to rise amidst their own 
lurid smoke in the distance (for in that direction lay the town of 
Ashleigh), he could catch no glimpse of the hated walls that for 
years past had formed his daily prison-house. He, therefore, 
answered, but not very audibly, " No, sir, if you please." 

" Speak up, my hero !" vociferated Sir Matthew, advancing upon 
him, — "Yes, or no?" 

<l No ;" replied the boy, distinctly. 

" Then be pleased to have the kindness to do me the favour of 
following my horse, and I will have the honour of showing you the 
way." 




r/A 



//'///' //f-// ///////- ■ / .;///>// /,/ /////// 



a, /A-// 7 cw //'/■//.# ■ //v,v///.' 



•"' !. ■ ■ ! 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 77 

So saying, Sir Matthew gave a merry look of intelligence to his 
friend, and they set off together at a brisk trot. 

Michael, for a piecer,* was a tall child for his age; and, though 
his limbs were wretchedly thin and attenuated, they had sufficient 
elasticity to enable him for some time to keep at no great distance, 
though it was a constantly increasing one, from the two gentlemen ; 
but, by degrees, his breath and strength failed, and perforce his 
speed relaxed into a panting, shuffling, walk. 

Sir Matthew, who from time to time turned round a laughing 
face to look at him, now reined up his horse and awaited his ap- 
proach ; upon which Michael redoubled his efforts, and in a few 
minutes stood beside his benefactor. 

" Step on, young gentleman ; step a little quicker, if you please ; 
or, perhaps, \ may find a way to mend your pace : I am not very 
fond of such lazy company." And, suiting his action to his words, 
he gave the quivering child several sharp cuts across the shoulders 
with his riding-whip. 

" He trots out in style now, doesn't he, doctor?" said Sir Mat- 
thew gaily, making his well-bitted horse cross and recross the road 
in such a manner, that, at each manoeuvre, the goaded child fancied 
himself already trampled beneath his feet. " Don't you think I 
should make a good dancing-master, Crockley ?" 

" Capital, by Jove ! — Egad, the youngster has learned some 
vastly pretty steps already. By the way, Sir Matthew," continued 
the philosophical physician, " when one watches that pale-faced 
young scamp making such active caprioles for no reason on the 
earth, but because he hears your pretty gentle jennet snuffing at 
his shoulder, — when one watches that, it is impossible not to see that 
nothing in God's world but sheer wilful laziness makes those ob- 
stinate little brutes, at the factory, pretend to totter, and stumble, 
and faint, and the devil knows what ; when all their work is to 
walk backwards and forwards as leisurely as if they were parading 
for pleasure. Nothing shall ever make me believe but that all the 
grunting and grumbling we hear about overworked children, pro- 
ceeds from a regular conspiracy among the worst of the parents. 
And, upon my soul, if you yield to it, you'll soon have to look after 
the wheels yourself." 

" Get on with ye, to the lodge there, you lazy cur," said the 
knight, addressing his panting protege, " and wait till we come 
up." Then reining up his horse, Sir Matthew drew close to his 
highly-valued intellectual companion, and falling into a gentle foot- 
pace, continued the scientific discussion with deep interest, and a 
wonderful clearness of perception. 

"It is quite curious to me, Crockley," he said, "to observe 
how common sense and observation will often make a man of to- 
lerable ability hit upon the very same facts, and come exactly to 
the very same conclusions as the man of science, who has passed 

* The children whose duty it is to walk backwards and forwards before the 
reels, on which the cotton, silk, or worsted is wound, for the purpose of joining 
the threads when they break, are called piecers, or pieceners. 



78 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

his whole life in study. What you have mentioned now, is precisely 
what has occurred to me over and over again, a thousand times, I 
am sure, at the very least, since I have been working Brookford 
factory. For just watch, my dear Crockley, any little village 
vagabond that you may chance to see as you ride about the 
country — just watch him at play; and tell me where you'll find 
a grown man that can keep moving as he does V 9 

" Nowhere, Sir Matthew, nowhere upon the face of the earth ; 
and it stands to reason, in spite of all that the confounded canters 
can say to the contrary, that nature made them so on purpose. 
Why, what's steam ? — Let them answer me that. Is steam man's 
making ? Isn't it sent by Providence ? And what for, I should 
like to know ? Isn't it for the good of mankind ? And how is that 
good to be had, if the nimbleness of children is not brought to bear 
upon it ? It is neither more nor less than a most shocking impiety, 
Sir Matthew ; and, upon my soul, if I were you I would build a 
meeting-house of my own, and hire a preacher too, at a pretty good 
salary, to preach against it. But no Church of England parson 
remember ; because, if they don't preach the doctrine you like, you 
would have no power to turn 'em out." 

" You're right, Crockley. That's a devilish good idea ; I'll turn 
it over in my head, and I shall like to hear some more of your 
notions about it. By the way, Crockley, you must not think of 
going home to dinner to-day. We'll have a cool bottle of claret, 
and talk the matter comfortably over. And there's another thing, 
too, I want to speak to you about. There's a devilish deal of talk 
about the health of the factory brats ; and I have a notion of ap- 
pointing a regular medical practitioner upon my establishment, who 
might always be ready, if called upon, to answer any questions that 
might be asked. Now, I hear you are a man, Crockley, capable 
of obliging a friend that deserves it ; and, if it's agreeable to you, 
instead of looking in now and then to give us an opinion as you do 
now, you shall have a regular appointment, with a couple of hun- 
dred a year, just to look after the health of the children." 

" I should like such an arrangement exceedingly well, Sir Mat- 
thew. You know my love of science ; and this would give me a 
capital opportunity for speculating upon different constitutions. 
Egad, Sir Matthew, I should like to write a book upon the subject. 
I think a monstrous deal of good might be done that way." 

"No doubt about it, Crockley: a clever fellow, like you, may 
throw an amazing deal of light upon a subject that is really be- 
coming exceedingly important; especially when one recollects that the 
national wealth and prosperity depends upon it altogether. You must 
come and dine with me often, Crockley, without any ceremony; 
and we may be able to hit out many a good thing over the bottle." 

The two gentlemen now reached the lodge-gates, where little 
Michael stood waiting for them ; and as the high-road soon turned 
in such a direction as to make Brookford factory visible, he was 
ordered to run on, and wait at the gates without minding them. They 
accordingly proceeded in their conversation without interruption ; 
and in the course of it, some very excellent hints were thrown out 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 79 

relative to the manufacturing interests in general, and to that of 
Brook ford factory in particular. 

Having reached the gates of what was generally termed his 
" magnificent establishment," and waited till the stylish groom in 
attendance upon him came up, Sir Matthew, and his estimable 
friend, left their horses with him, and entered the court, which, 
protected by a very lofty wall, surrounded the buildings on all 
sides. 

Those persons who have, once in their lives, seen a large cotton- 
factory, need no description of it ; for it has features which, once 
looked upon, can never be forgotten ; but, for the information of 
those who have not, a slight sketch of Sir Matthew Dowling's 
establishment shall be given. 

It consisted of very extensive buildings constructed in the centre 
of the enclosed court, and forming three sides of a vast square ; the 
fourth being open on the side fronting the principal gates of en- 
trance. When it is stated that the edifice consisted of six stories, 
and that each side of it presented six lines of windows, containing 
forty windows in each line, some idea of its magnitude may be con- 
ceived. 

Michael was already at the gates, and, on the approach of Sir 
Matthew, rang the bell ; a ceremony necessary to obtain admittance 
both for masters and labourers ; no means of entrance or exit being 
ever left unsecured for a single instant. 

The summons was answered by a lame boy, stationed within to 
perform the office of porter. He bent low before the great man, 
and low too before his jeering friend ; though the jocose visits of 
the latter to the factory were dreaded as much as the lash itself. 

Neither the one nor the other seemed to see him, but passed on. 
Then followed poor little Michael, hating most cordially the bravery 
of the attire, which made him expect to meet the ridicule, rather 
than the sympathy, of his late companions. 

On seeing a young stranger, the lame porter looked up ; but 
from him, at least, Michael had nothing to fear ; for the boy's 
languid eye surveyed his altered person, without the slightest sus- 
picion of ever having seen it before. Sir Matthew, like most others 
of his craft, was not in the habit of indulging his family by ex- 
hibiting to them the secret arcana of that hideous mystery by which 
the delicate forms of young children are made to mix and mingle 
with the machinery, from whence flows the manufacturer's wealth. 
This divine portion of the vast engine being considered, however, as 
a very inferior, though necessary, part of it. But, although they 
had never honoured the premises with a visit, it was, of course, well 
known to all that Sir Matthew Dowling was the father of a numerous 
progeny ; and Michael passed on amidst such blessings as human 
nature, under such circumstances, was likely to bestow on one of 
them. 

The party entered the building, whence — as all know who have 
done the like — every sight, every sound, every scent that kind 
nature has fitted to the organs of her children, so as to render the 



80 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

mere unfettered use of them a delight, are banished for ever and for 
ever. The ceaseless whirring of a million hissing wheels, seizes 
on the tortured ear ; and while threatening to destroy the delicate 
sense, seems bent on proving first, with a sort of mocking mercy, 
of how much suffering it can be the cause. The scents that reek 
around, from oil, tainted water, and human filth, with that last 
worst nausea, arising from the hot refuse of atmospheric air, left 
by some hundred pairs of labouring lungs, render the act of breath- 
ing a process of difficulty, disgust, and pain. All this is terrible. 
But what the eye brings home to the heart of those, who look round 
upon the horrid earthly hell, is enough to make it all forgotten; for 
who can think of villanous smells, or heed the suffering of the ear- 
racking sounds, while they look upon hundreds of helpless children, 
divested of every trace of health, of joyousness, and even of youth ! 
Assuredly there is no exaggeration in this; for except only 
in their diminutive size, these suffering infants have no trace 
of it. Lean and distorted limbs — sallow and sunken cheeks- 
dim hollow eyes, that speak unrest and most unnatural carefulness, 
give to each tiny, trembling, unelastic form, a look of hideous pre- 
mature old age. 

But in the room they entered, the dirty, ragged, miserable crew, 
were all in active performance of their various tasks ; the over- 
lookers, strap in hand, on the alert ; the whirling spindles urging 
the little slaves who waited on them, to movements as unceasing as 
their own ; and the whole monstrous chamber, redolent of all the 
various impurities that " by the perfection of our manufacturing 
system," are converted into " gales of Araby" for the rich, after 
passing in the shape of certain poison, through the lungs of the 
poor. So Sir Matthew proudly looked about him, and approved ; 
and though it was athwart that species of haughty frown, in which 
such dignity as his is apt to clothe itself, Dr. Crockley failed not 
to perceive, that his friend and patron was in good humour, and 
likely to be pleased by any light and lively jestings in which he 
might indulge. Perceiving, therefore, that little Michael passed on 
with downcast eyes, unrecognised by any, he wrote upon a slip of 
paper, for he knew his voice could not be heard " Make the boy 
take that bare-legged scavenger wench round the neck, and give 
her a kiss while she is next lying down, and let us see them sprawl- 
ing together." 

Sir Matthew read the scroll, and grinned applause. 
The miserable creature to whom the facetious doctor pointed, 
was a little girl about seven years old, whose office as " scavenger" 
was to collect incessantly from the machinery and from the floor, 
the flying fragments of cotton that might impede the work. In 
the performance of this duty, the child was obliged, from time to 
time, to stretch itself with sudden quickness on the ground, while 
the hissing machinery passed over her ; and when this is skilfully 
done, and the head, body, and outstretched limbs carefully glued 
to the floor, the steady-moving, but threatening mass, may pass and 
repass over the dizzy head and^ trembling body without touching it. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 81 

But accidents frequently occur ; and many are the flaxen locks, 
rudely torn from infant heads, in the process. 

It was a sort of vague hope that something comical of this kind 
might occur, which induced Dr. Crockley to propose this frolic to 
his friend, and probably the same idea suggested itself to Sir Mat- 
thew likewise. 

" I say, Master Michael I" vociferated the knight in a scream, 
which successfully struggled with the din, " show your old ac- 
quaintance that pride has not got the upper hand of you in your 
fine clothes. Take scavenger, No. 3, there, round the neck ; now 
— now — now, as she lies sprawling, and let us see you give her a 
hearty kiss." 

The stern and steady machinery moved onward, passing over the 
body of the little girl, who owed her safety to the miserable lean- 
ness of her shrunken frame ; but Michael moved not. 

" Are you deaf, you little vermin?" roared Sir Matthew. " Now 
she's down again. — Do what I bid you, or by the living God you 
shall smart for it !" 

Still Michael did not stir, neither did he speak ; or if he did, 
his young voice was wholly inaudible, and the anger of Sir Matthew 
was demonstrated by a clenched fist and threatening brow. " Where 
the devil is Parsons ?" he demanded in accents that poor Michael 
both heard and understood. " Fine as he is, the strap will do him 
good." 

In saying this, the great man turned to reconnoitre the space he 
had traversed, and by which his confidential servant must approach, 
and found that he was already within a good yard of hira. 

" That's good — I want you Parsons. Do you see this little rebel 
here, that I have dressed and treated like one of my own children ? 
What d'ye think of his refusing to kiss Miss No. 3, scavenger, 
when I bid him?" 

" The devil he does ?" said the manager grinning; " we must see 
if we can't mend that. Mind your hits, Master Piecer, and salute 
the young lady when the mules go back, like a gentleman." 

Sir Matthew perceived that his favourite agent feared to enforce his 
first brutal command, and was forced, therefore, to content himself 
with seeing the oiled and grimy face of the filthy little girl in contact 
with that of the now clean and delicate-looking Michael. But he 
felt he had been foiled, and cast a glance upon his protege, which 
seemed to promise that he would not forget it. 

Having made known to the superintendent, that it was his plea- 
sure to enter the room where the brother of Michael was at work, 
Mr. Parsons led the way to the fifth floor of the building ; Sir 
Matthew, however, ordering the door of each chamber, as he passed 
up, to be opened for him, that he might look in upon his stifling 
slaves, and satisfy himself that neither wheels nor sinews were 
loitering in unthrifty repose. 

The air that issued from each, was nauseous ; and on entering- 
the room, at the farther end of which Edward Armstrong was em- 

G 



82 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ployed, Dr. Crockley secretly resolved, that when making the final 
arrangements for his promised appointment, it should be specified 
that he should never enter the working portion of the establishment. 
For though by no means a particularly scientific practitioner, the 
little doctor knew quite enough of the business he followed, to be 
aware that, in his own case at least, the air which filled it, could 
not be breathed with impunity.) 

" Now then, sir," said Sir Matthew, addressing himself to 
Michael, while Parsons opened the door on the fifth floor, and an- 
nounced that this was the room that contained Edward. " Now, 
sir, walk on, and find your brother ; and, if your pride does not 
stand in your way, let him be made to understand all the extraor- 
dinary kindness I have shown you. Take care that you let him 
and all his companions know that I have adopted you as one of my 
own family ; and that henceforward, they will always see you 
dressed as well as you are at present." 

All that Michael clearly understood from this harangue was, that 
he had permission to go forward and speak to his brother ; and 
though not venturing quite to run, he moved onward at a pace that 
speedily brought him within sight of Edward. The little fellow 
who, despite his gay disguise, ^immediately recognised him, uttered 
a cry of joy. 

u Love conquered fear f 

and dropping the reel he had just taken between his fingers, he 
rushed from the place he occupied before the mules, and the next 
moment was fondly clasped in his brother's arms. 

Every labourer in the factory, within sight of the spot where this 
meeting took place, forgot all standing orders in their astonishment, 
and stood with gaping mouths and eyes fixed upon the astounding 
spectacle. Sir Matthew, too, forgot for an instant, that every 
movement made within that crowded chamber, not having for its 
object the transmutation of human life into gold, was a positive loss 
to him ; for the display of his extraordinary benevolence was, he 
conceived, of high importance, and he looked round with great 
contentment on the multitude of wondering faces which he saw 
peering over the machinery in all directions, to gaze on the sight 
he had prepared for them. 

"This will be talked of, or the devil is in it," thought he. "I 
should like to know who would dare to mention night work and 
hard usage now. A capital scheme this, as ever was hit upon." 

And from the gazers, he now turned his eyes upon the object that 
fixed their attention, when, to his inconceivable astonishment and 
rage, he perceived that the two boys, who still stood locked in each 
other's arms, were both weeping bitterly." 

" Not loud, but deep," were the curses that he breathed against 
the unfortunate object of his affected bounty ; and faithfully did 
he pledge a promise to his own heart, that he should pay for the 
vexation he thus occasioned him. But for the present, he conde- 



I 




/rs'f awtf/Mteuy ^ 



4*t& 



- ■ 







mr- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 83 

scended to veil the feeling by a smile more bland than anyone ever 
before witnessedfrom him within those walls ; and striding forwards to 
the sobbing children, he laid a. hand on the shoulder of each, while he 
said in a voice that seemed endowed by nature with an especial 
power of competing with the thunder of a cotton-mill — 

" Come, come, my dears ! I know you are crying for joy ; but 
you must not go on so, or it will look as if little Michael was un- 
grateful for all I have done for him ! Have you told your brother, 
dear, how I ordered you to take some nice things home to your 
mother ? That will make him look up, I'll answer for it ! There, 
now I'll leave you here that you may tell all your friends that you 
have been made a gentleman of, on account of your good behaviour, 
and because you was faithful to your master. Let them have ten 
minutes, Parsons, with the mules standing still, that they may all 
hear the story." 

Sir Matthew then turned about, and hastened out of the factory, 
followed by Dr. Crockley ; and as they slowly rode homewards by 
some round-about lanes that were shaded from the sun, they dis- 
cussed high thoughts, 

" Such as Lycurgus loved, 



When he bade flog the little Spartans." 

And ere they "eached the luxurious abode of the knight, had be- 
tween them sketched such a scheme of political, moral, and reli- 
gious defence for the factory system in all its branches, and in all 
its bearings, that the doctor as he descended from his horse, snapped 
his fingers triumphantly, exclaiming, " A fig for them all, Sir Mat- 
thew ! If they mine, egad we'll countermine, and we start with a 
pretty tolerable advantage. You are a man of science, Sir Mat- 
thew Dowling ; and I need not tell you, that a powerful movement 
once in action, is devilish hard to stop. The vis inertia will work 
for us, my friend — not to mention that when the animals find out 
their only alternative is labour or starvation — labour, such and 
so much as you in your bounty will be pleased to bestow — they will 
all grow as patient as so many sucking doves." 

These words were spoken as they slowly mounted together the 
steps of the stately portico ; Sir Matthew, as a reply, shook his 
friend cordially by the hand, and leading the way to the cool and 
lofty library, ordered iced water and claret, to wash away the effect 
of their half-hour's visit to the factory 



g 2 



84 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER IX. 

SOME PARTICULARS RESPECTING MISS BROTHERTON A DEMON- 
STRATION OF NEIGHBOURLY FRIENDSHIP AND ANXIETY THE 

WILFULNESS OF AN HEIRESS— A GLEAM OF LIGHT CAUGHT IN 
THE DARKNESS. 

The mansion of Miss Brotherton, at the distance of three miles 
from the town of Ashleigh, though less splendid in external ap- 
pearance than that of Sir Matthew Dowling, was quite as elabo- 
rately elegant in its interior, and moreover, incomparably superior 
to it in every point in which taste was concerned. To this superb 
home we must now follow the young heiress, as circumstances will 
hereafter frequently blend her name with that of Michael Arm- 
strong. 

The position of Mary Brotherton was a very singular one, and 
in many respects far from being fortunate. At the age of twenty- 
one years and eight months, she found herself, by the death of her 
mother, in the uncontrolled possession of two hundred thousand 
pounds. Her father, dead some six or seven years before, had been 
a manufacturer of the old apprentice-system school, and his fortune 
made long before the humane bill of Sir Robert Peel, the elder, 
had, in some degree, weakened the chains which bound thousands 
of friendless orphans to unmeasured and unmitigated drudgery.* 

But of all these circumstances, his daughter was totally and al- 
together ignorant.' Educated, from a very early age, at a fashionable 
London boarding-school, she knew nothing concerning the neigh- 
bourhood of her home, but that its hills and valleys were deformed by 
tall chimneys and dirty smoke ; and that none of the young ladies 
who paid her visits during the holidays, were at all like her school- 
fellows in London. 

Of course, the little lady soon learned to know that she was a 
person of great consequence; and at the age of fourteen, had 
most completely acquired all the airs and graces of a spoiled child. 
But the death of her father was a great advantage to her ; as his 
only child, and the only heir of his immense wealth, he rather wor- ' 
shipped than loved her, and the attentions he paid her, seemed 
more like acts of homage than of affection. Had she not given 
herself airs, he would have been miserable ; and had it been pos- 
sible that any act of hers could bring upon her a reprimand, it 
would have been something indicating her belief, that she was 
formed of the same sort of materials as the wretches who toiled for 
him. 

Fortunately, however, she was fond of her mother, who, being 

* It was not till after the first number of this work was printed, that the author 
learnt that the name of Brotherton existed among the capitalists of Lancashire. 
But when in that county, she heard it mentioned with great esteem. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 85 

a great invalid, lived quietly in the midst of her splendour; and 
the holidays of her daughter were thus passed quietly too, which 
saved her from much early adulation. She had remained at school 
till nearly eighteen ; and from that time, to the period of her mo- 
ther's death, which happened about fifteen months before the open- 
ing of this narrative, she had led a life of great retirement, dividing 
her time between attendance in her sick mother's chamber, gallop- 
ing about the country on horseback, and reading every book she 
could get hold of, good, bad, and indifferent. 

On first finding herself alone in her own great house, the poor 
girl wept bitterly. Her mother's increasing sufferings had long 
made her release from them an event to be ardently desired by the 
only being who loved her ; but when at last it came, and she had 
herself to think of, and nobody else, there was something almost 
terrible in her utter loneliness. She was personally acquainted 
with very few in the neighbourhood, and felt no affection for any 
of them. Of relations, to the best of her knowledge and belief, 
she possessed not one in the world ; and with all her advantages, 
for she had many, being young, pretty, talented, and rich, she 
would gladly have changed places during the first weeks of her 
dismal mourning, with any girl of her own age who had father, 
mother, brother, and sisters to love, and be loved by. 

Mrs. Gabberly was the nearest neighbour she had on one side, 
and Lady Clarissa Shrimpton on the other, and both these ladies 
had occasionally been admitted to see her mother till within a few 
days of her death. When, therefore, this dong-expected event 
at length took place, they both thought themselves privileged to 
assume the freedom of intimate friends, and penetrate to the lone 
boudoir of the mournful heiress. Fortunate for her it was, that 
they did so; for though neither of them possessed any single 
quality of sufficient value to win and wear the esteem, or even the 
liking, of an acute, clearsighted observer, such as the half-spoiled 
heiress certainly was ; it was better to hear the sound of almost 
any human voice uttering words of kindness, than to sit lonely and 
apart, and hear none ; so that neither the twaddling larum of Mrs. 
Gabberly, nor the absurd affectation of Lady Clarissa were without 
their use. 

It might, however, have been somewhat dangerous to the moral 
development of the young lady's character, had she long continued 
to find her only relief from sorrow and solitude in the society of 
persons who could only amuse her by their absurdities. Almost 
the first time she exerted herself for the purpose of pursuing some 
of her ordinary occupations, she drew forth her drawing-box, and 
produced a caricature of Lady Clarissa reciting verses from the 
pen of Mr. Norval; and the first observations she committed to 
paper, were the result of a tolerably accurate counting of the num- 
ber of times Mrs. Gabberly had uttered " Well now!" during her 
last visit. 

At length, the first dismal fortnight being over, Miss Brotherton 
appeared at church ; and then the whole neighbourhood rushed in 



86 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to express their sympathy, till her very soul sickened under the 
cuckoo-note of sorrowless lamentation. Nevertheless, there was so 
much of real sadness in the spectacle of a young girl thus left 
utterly alone in the world, that despite the golden light her wealth 
threw around her, many among her herd of visiters might have felt 
more for her, perhaps, than she gave them credit for. But, unfor- 
tunately such persons are not those who make their " griefs , and 
clamour roar" most audibly, so she knew nothing about it, if it 
were so, and thereby lost any advantage which her temper might 
have gained from emotions that soothe and soften. 

Instead of this, she had to undergo what she felt to be a very 
severe persecution, from the prodigiously active interest which Mrs, 
Gabberly took in her, and her concerns. As some of the singu- 
larities of Miss Brotherton's character, will eventually produce 
results of considerable importance to our hero, it may not be amiss 
to recount the particulars of a scene which took place in her bou- 
doir exactly three weeks after the death of her mother. 

On the morning in question, Mrs. Gabberly had as usual made 
her way unannounced to the young lady's presence, by dint of that 
assumption of extreme intimacy in her manner of inquiring for her, 
which in this case, as in a multitude of others, succeeded in putting 
to the rout the protecting discretion of her servants. 

" Well now, dear child!" she exclaimed on entering; "how 
are you to-day? Upon my word, Mary, you are too pale. You know 
my dear, the palor, as we call it, is not natural to your complexion, 
and therefore the symptom must be attended to. Have you any 
camphor in the house, dear ?" 

" Thank you, Mrs. Gabberly ; but I want nothing of the kind." 
" Well now ! then I must think of something else." 
" Not for me, ma'am, I shall not take any medicine whatever." 
" Dear child ! How very odd that does seem to me ! We people 
of science, Mary, are so used to turn to it upon all occasions, that 
it almost looks like losing one's wits altogether, to go on so, and 
take nothing." 

" People of no science, ma'am, do not require it." 
" Well now ! so much the worse for them ; but that was not the 
point I came to talk about. Do you know, my dear, I am perfectly 
miserable in my mind about you. I can't sleep at nights for think- 
ing about the impossibility of your living on, all by your own self, 
in this great palace of a house." 

Miss Brotherton turned away her head, and resting her elbow on 
the mass of cushions that were piled beside her on the sofa, con- 
cealed her eyes with her hand, while her neighbour proceeded to 
discuss her condition. 

" Did you ever hear of such a thing in your whole life, my dear? 
No, never ! that's quite certain. It is quite out of the question, 
and impossible ; and to speak out the whole truth at once, it is not 
in any way decent." 

Something a little approaching to a start, produced a slight 
movement in Miss Brotherton. Mrs. Gabberly proceeded. t 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 87 

" Well now, my dear ! I have been thinking that what you must 
do, is to find out among your friends and acquaintance, some re- 
spectable person in the situation of a gentlewoman to live with you. 
Somebody already known in the neighbourhood, would be the most 
desirable, because then you would not have the trouble of intro- 
ducing her; for of course it will be in no wise proper for so young a 
person as you are to visit about, even in the country, without a 
proper chaperone." 

Again the cushions were slightly moved, but this time it was not 
a start, but a shudder which caused it. 

" Well now, my dear Mary !" resumed the friendly Mrs. Gab- 
berly ; " what do you think about it?" 

" It requires longer time than I have yet had, before I can an- 
swer your question, Mrs. Gabberly," replied the young lady. 

" Well now ! that's very true, and very discreet, and sensible ; 
and God forbid, my dear, that I should make you do any thing in 
a hurry. Only you must not forget that every body will be on the 
look out to observe what you do. Depend upon it, that they won't 
wait to make their remarks — that's all." 

The heiress retained her meditative position, but said nothing. 
" Don't you think what I have said is true, my dear?" 
Mary bowed her head, but without changing the position of the 
hand which concealed her face. 

" I wish she would look up at me," thought Mrs. Gabberly; " I 
might guess then, perhaps, if there was any chance for me." 

" It would be a comfort, as well as a protection, wouldn't it, 
my dear, to have a kind, affectionate friend, always near you .!" 
Mary bowed again. 

" Well now ! I wish you would open your dear heart, and speak 
out. Tell me, don't you feel very lonesome, when you sit down to 
dinner ?" 

" I have been long used to that, Mrs. Gabberly." 
" Yes ; but then you had not got to think all the time, as I am 
sure you must do now, that there was nobody near you ; that there 
was nobody in the whole great house but your own self, besides the 
servants ; that there was nobody to drink your health ; nobody to 
say won't you take a little bit more, my dear ? Nobody to say isn't 
this very nice ? Nobody to give you a nod and a smile when you 
look up. Nobody to ask, ' Shall I peel an orange for you, my 
dear ?' or, < Shall I mix your strawberries and cream, my love V 
Now isn't this all dismal ?" 

" Very dismal, ma'am !." replied the young lady in a voice 
that showed plainly enough, that the picture was not an indifferent 
one. 

" Well now ! that's saying something ; and I can't help think- 
ing, dear Mary ! I can't help saying, that it has come into my head, 
that if—" 

" Mrs. Gabberly!" cried Miss Brotherton, starting suddenly up. 
" I must now beg you to leave me. You have described my situa- 
tion so forcibly, that I feel more than ever the necessity of making 



88 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

some arrangement that may better it. But I will not do this with- 
out reflection. Leave me, now. I thank you for your kind con- 
cern, and when next you call upon me, you shall find that what 
you have said has not been disregarded." 

" Well now, that's all right, and I'll go directly. Shall it be to- 
morrow, dear, that I call again ?" 

" No, ma'am, if you please, not till next Saturday." 

"Saturday? Why, my dear, this is only Monday — it is a great 
while for me to live in such suspense about you, dearest." 

" No, ma'am, not very long. Saturday it must be if you 
please ; and I shall be happy if you will stay and dine here on that 
day." 

" Thank you, my dear. I shall like that very, very much in- 
deed. And then we can talk every thing over, my dear Mary. 
God bless you, my love. Take care of yourself, dearest, till Satur- 
day ; and just let me say one word in your ear at parting. Re- 
member, that there is nobody in the whole wide world that loves 
you as much as I do." 

Miss Brotherton submitted herself passively to the embrace 
■which followed ; and when the door closed after her affectionate 
neighbour, she stood, as it seemed, patiently, while her sharp, short, 
retreating footsteps were heard along the spacious corridor, and 
•when they were heard no more she applied her hand to the bell. 
But something made her pause ere she rang it, and stepping to a 
window, that opened upon a balcony filled with skilfully-shaded 
exotics, she peeped forth from among them, till the active-moving 
little figure of Mrs. Gabberly trudging along the drive below, 
became visible, and then the heiress turned again to the bell-rope, 
and pulled it vigorously. 

" Tell nurse Tremlett— tell Mrs. Tremlett to be so kind as to 
come to me immediately," was the order given to the servant who 
answered it. 

After the interval of a few minutes, during which Miss Brother- 
ton stood with her arm resting on the mantelpiece, with a counte- 
nance and attitude of deep meditation, the door opened again, and 
a pale, thin, little old woman entered, who, had not her wrinkles 
and gray locks betrayed her, might have passed for five-and-twenty, 
so active and nicely moulded was her little person. But despite 
her still clear and bright black eye, her face showed that she could 
not honestly count less than twice that sum of years. 

" Come in, dear nurse !" said Miss Brotherton kindly, " come 
in, and sit down by me." 

The old woman obeyed this command without further ceremony ; 
and, by her manner of doing it, showed plainly that it was not an 
uncommon one. 

" What have you been about, my child ?" said she, " you don't 
look well." 

" I dare say not," replied Mary abruptly, " I have been bored 
and plagued, nurse Tremlett ; and now I am going to bore and 
plague you, in order to comfort myself." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 89 

For all answer, the chartered nurse put her arm round the young 
lady's neck, and gave her a very loving kiss. 

" Nay, it is very true, Mrs. Tremlett ; and no joke in it, I do 
assure you. I am going to make a terrible change in your manner 
of life, my dear old woman. I am going to make a state-prisoner 
of you. " 

" You may plague and puzzle your old nurse as much as you like, 
my darling, so you will but smile and look a little less dismal than 
you have done of late. And what is it you are 1 going to do to 
me, Miss Mary ? I dare say it is nothing that I shall think very 
hard." 

" I don't know that, Mrs. Tremlett." replied Mrs. Brotherton 
very gravely. 

" Mrs. Tremlett, and Mrs. Tremlett," said the old woman, look- 
ing earnestly at her, "what does that mean, Miss Mary ? — I don't 
like it." 

" I know you won't like it. But you must bear that, and a great 
deal more, my dear old friend. You must make up your mind to 
lead a new life altogether ; and I am very much afraid that you 
will not like the change." 

" Oh ! goodness, Miss Mary, what is it you mean ? You are not 
going to send me away from you, are you ?" 

" Is that the worst thing I could do to vex you ?" said the young 
lady, very cordially returning the caress she had received; "you 
need not be afraid of that, at any rate. The misfortune I threaten 
is of quite a different kind." 

" Well, then I shan't mind it ; let it be what it will. But I 
don't think it is any thing very bad, my dear; for you look as if you 
were ready to laugh, though you try to look grave, and talk of a 
misfortune." • 

"It will be no misfortune to me, I assure you, but quite the 
contrary. I shall like it very much, and that is the reason you see 
me ready to smile ; and if you will be a dear good woman, and make 
no difficulties about it, all will go well. Mrs. Gabberly has been 
here, nurse Tremlett ; and she tells me that I must immediately 
take some elderly lady into the house, to sit with me and take care 
of me; because, as she says, I am too young to live alone, and 
that all the neighbourhood will be making remarks upon me." 

" Well, my dear, and I dare say she says no more than the 
truth. Your great fortune, and your prettiness, and all that, will 
certainly bring many and many an eye upon you, my dear child; 
and, of course, it won't do for you to go on without having some 
steady lady of a companion like, to be living with you." 

" But I hate all ladies that would come to live as a companion 
like" replied the young lady. "What should I do with a 'Miss 
Mogg, trotting about after me, to ask if I wanted my smelling- 
bottle, or my pug-dog? And that is not the worst that could 
happen to me either. As sure as you are there, nurse Tremlett, 
Mrs. Gabberly has made up her mind to come and live here as my 
companion herself!" 



90 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" And you would not like that, by your manner, my dear ? I do 
think she is rather too bustling and busy for you. You are such a 
reader that you would not like any one that was over talkative 
and fidgety about you. But don't fret yourself for that, dear ; you 
must make some civil sort of excuse to Mrs. Gabberly. You are 
clever enough to find one, I dare say." 

" Yes, nurse Tremlett, I think I am — I have found one al- 
ready." 

" That's very right, Miss Mary; and what shall you say to her, 
my dear ?" 

" I shall tell her that you are going to live with me as my com- 
panion." 

" Nonsense, dear ! That is the joke, is it, that you were looking 
so merry about ?" 

" Mrs. Tremlett, I am not jesting in any way," replied Miss Bro- 
therton, very gravely ; " and I entreat you to listen to my proposal 
as seriously as I make it. I am friendless, very friendless, dear 
nurse ; and trust me, with all my money, I am greatly to be pitied. 
Why, in addition to the misfortune of not having a relation in the 
world, should I be doomed to the misery of hiring a stranger to 
pester me with her presence from morning to night? It is a pe- 
nance that I cannot, and will not endure. Yet I know that all 
people will say, that I ought not to sit up here alone to receive 
company, and I do not wish to be spoken of as a person who either 
knows not or values not propriety. But if you will do what I de- 
sire, Mrs. Tremlett, you may save me from this, and from what I 
perhaps should unhappily consider as a greater misfortune still, 
namely, the being forced to pass my life with a person whose pre- 
sence was a pain to me." 

Tears flowed down the cheeks of the heiress as she spoke ; and 
the devoted servant who sat beside her, though absolutely con- 
founded by the strange proposal, could find no words to utter in 
opposition to it. 

" Dear nurse ! — you will not forsake me, then? "said Mary, smiling 
through her tears. " There's a dear soul — you will let me have my 
own way in everything — about your dress, you know, and all that? 
It will be worth any thing in the world to see Mrs. Gabberly, when 
she first beholds you sitting up in state in the drawing-room !" 

From the moment the old woman had perceived that her beloved, 
but wilful darling, was not only serious, but sorrowful, and that, too, 
concerning no imaginary grief, but from the contemplation of the 
truly melancholy isolation of her condition, all disposition to resist 
her vanished ; and yet nurse Tremlett was perfectly capable of 
perceiving all the inconveniences likely to arise on both sides from 
so strange a scheme. But even while such thoughts silently took 
possession of her, leaving perhaps some legible traces on her coun- 
tenance, her young mistress looked so kindly and so coaxingly in 
her face, as if at once reading and deprecating all she had to say, 
that she felt nothing was left for her but obedience. 

" Do what you will with me, my dear," said she, with a fond 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 91 

smile and a shake of the head, that seemed to say, " I know you 
must have your own way, Mary." 

-And thus was conceived and established a mode of life for the 
pretty heiress, which left her as completely uncontrolled as to all 
she did, and all she said, as if nurse Tremlett still occupied her 
quarters in what was once called the nursery, but had since become 
the favoured nurse's sitting-room. 

Mary's delight in dressing and drilling the old woman for her 
new duties, was childish and excessive ; and most triumphant was 
the satisfaction with which she perceived that rich black silks, and 
delicate white crape, performed their office upon her nice little per- 
son so effectually, as to give her quite as much the air of a gentle- 
woman, as the majority of those who were likely to meet her. 

So, on the following Saturday, Mrs. Gabberly found Miss Bro- 
therton no longer the solitary occupant of her elegant boudoir, but 
with a remarkably well-dressed elderly lady, seated in the most 
luxurious of all the newly-invented chairs which decorated the 
apartment, with a small work-table before her ; while on the foot- 
stool at her feet, sat the heiress, looking a vast deal more happy 
than she had ever before seen her. 

The mystification did not last long. The eyes of Mrs. Gabberly 
were of that happy fabric, which enables the owner to retain for 
ever the memory of every face they have ever looked upon ; and it 
was with heightened colour, and no very sweet expression of coun- 
tenance, that she exclaimed, " Soh ! you have taken your old nurse, 
Tremlett, to sit with you ?" 

" My nurse no longer, but my most kind friend, Mrs. Gabberly, 
who has affectionately consented to forsake many of her former 
comforts, in order to be useful to me. You will perceive, ma'am, 
that your advice has not been lost upon me." 

" Well now ! that is a strange whim, Miss Brotherton. But of 
course, you are not serious in trying to make me believe that it is 
your intention to let nurse Tremlett assist you in receiving your 
company. If it be so, I think it but fair to tell you at once, as my 
experience is rather greater than yours, that not one single soul 
among all our rich folks, will care to visit you at all. I don't wish 
to affront you, nurse Tremlett ; but you won't contradict what I 
say, I am quite sure of that." 

Mrs. Tremlett showed herself an apt scholar, for she bowed her 
head, went on with her knitting, and said nothing. 

If she was silent, however, Miss Brotherton was not. " Listen 
to me, ma'am, if you please, for a few minutes, while I explain to 
you my ideas on the subject ; and having done so, I desire that it 
may never be alluded to again. I am left, Mrs. Gabberly, as I 
daresay you know — exceedingly well, in the possession of an ample 
fortune, with unlimited power to spend it as I please. Now I do 
not please to spend any part of it in putting myself under circum- 
stances that I should feel annoying to me. For this reason I will 
not hire a gentlewoman — in all human probability of much higher 
birth than myself — to watch my caprices, and endure my whims. 



92 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



If any one now in existence really loves me, it is Mrs. Tremlett ; 
and I, too, most sincerely love her ; therefore I flatter myself, that 
drawing tighter the tie that has long united us, will occasion pain to 
neither. If the obscure tradition I have heard respecting my 
grandfather be correct, he received much kindness when travelling 
the country as an itinerant tinker from Mrs. Tremlett's father, then 
a flourishing farmer in Yorkshire. So you perceive, Mrs. Gab- 
berly, that I am really honoured by the association. But if any 
one should fancy the contrary — if any one should feel that the 
luxuries of my house and table — the only attractions I know of, by 
which I may hope to draw my neighbours round me — if any should 
feel that the value of these are lessened by the presence of Mrs. 
Tremlett, they must give them up. For the price I shall put upon 
my good dinners and fine balls, will be the most courteous and kind 
politeness^ to that dear and valued friend. And now that we have 
finally and for ever dismissed this subject, will you tell me if I 
may hope for the pleasure of your company at dinner to-day, Mrs. 
Gabberly?" 

From this period, Mrs. Tremlett never quitted Mary Brotherton, 
excepting when the heiress accommodated Lady Clarissa Shrimpton 
by the use of her carriage, when they were both going to visit at 
the same mansion ; an arrangement which had often taken place 
during the late Mrs. Brotherton's lifetime, and which was of such 
very obvious mutual convenience, that one was rarely invited with- 
out the other. 

Miss Brotherton by degrees recovered her natural high spirits, and 
though she not unfrequently felt the weight of great loneliness, she 
was rapidly learning to enjoy her independence. She read a great deal, 
though nobody knew any thing about it. She dearly loved flowers, 
and often assisted in their culture with her own hands, despite her 
half-dozen gardeners. She laid out whole miles of gravel walks in 
her own grounds with almost as much skill as went to form the 
Cretan labyrinth, in order that she might walk, and walk, and walk, 
without passing her own lodge-gates, and sol running the risk of 
being called " imprudent" She still indulged herself, and with no 
sparing licence, in caricaturing her neighbours ; and, if all the truth 
must be told, derived no small portion of amusement from the va- 
riety of modes she adopted to assure the almost innumerable pre- 
tenders to her hand, that it was not in her power to reward their 
valuable and flattering attachments. 

Such was Mary Brotherton's condition when she complied with 
Lady Clarissa Shrimpton's request, to drive over to Dowling Lodge 
the day after they had dined there. Upon this occasion, as upon many 
previous ones, the young lady, for lack of other amusement, occu- 
pied herself in selecting subjects for her merry pencil. The best 
excuse to be offered for her offences in this line is, that nobody but 
Mrs. Tremlett ever saw her saucy productions ; so that assuredly they 
gave pain to no one — and when the heart is empty, and the head 
full, much allowance must be made for such freaks and fancies. 

While laying up stores of sketches from Sir Matthew, Lady Cla- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 93 

rissa, and the poet, her eye suddenly became fixed upon the beau- 
tiful child who had been brought in for general examination. Like 
most other ready limners of the human face, Miss Brotherton had 
considerable skill in physiognomy, and ere she had long gazed on 
the pretty, nicely-dressed, little boy, she felt persuaded that in spite 
of his gay habit defete, the child was ill at ease, and under great 
discomfort. 

It is difficult for persons residing at a distance, and not " to the 
manner born," to conceive the extraordinary degree of ignorance in 
which the ladies of the great manufacturing families are brought up, 
as to the real condition of the people employed in the concern from 
whence their wealth is derived. ^ 

There is, however, a homely proverb that may help to explain 
this : " You should never speak of a rope in the house of a man 
that was hanged," and it is probably on the same principle, that no 
one speaks of the factory in the house of the manufacturer. Be 
this as it may, the fact is certain, and Mary Brotherton, like perhaps 
a hundred other rich young ladies, of the same class, grew up in 
total ignorance of the moans and the misery that lurked beneath 
the unsightly edifices, which she just knew were called the factories, 
but which were much too ugly in her picturesque eyes for her ever 
to look at them, when she could help it. 

Little did the kind-tempered, warm-hearted girl guess, that for 
hours before she raised her healthy and elastic frame from the couch 
where it had luxuriously reposed through the night, thousands of 
sickly, suffering, children were torn from their straw pallets, to com- 
mence a long unvaried day of painful toil, to fill the ever-craving 
purses, of which her own was one. She knew that Sir Matthew Dow- 
ling was considered as the richest man in the district — richer even 
than her father had been, and this was all she knew about him, ex- 
cept that her own sharp observation had enabled her to perceive 
that he was ignorant, vulgar, and most ludicrously crammed with 
pretensions of all sorts. 

After having looked into the face of little Michael, till she was 
perfectly convinced of his being exceedingly unhappy, she next di- 
rected her attention to his benefactor, as she heard him clamorously 
hailed on all sides ; and his countenance, though smiling, spoke a 
language she liked not. It was evident to her that he was very 
keenly watching the boy, and more than once she detected a look 
from Sir Matthew, directed towards him, which was instantly fol- 
lowed by an attempt on the child's part to look less miserable. 

Then followed all the nonsense about Mr. Osmond Norval, and 
his promised drama, which was to place upon the scene some prodi- 
giously generous action of Sir Matthew Dowling's, towards this 
little boy. Mary Brotherton did not believe a word of it, and sick 
of the false and fulsome flattery that was bandied about between the 
knight, the lady, and the poet, she made, as we have seen, a some- 
what hasty retreat. 

On her road home she was more than usually silent, being occu- 
pied in a meditation on the features of Michael Armstrong. For 



94 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

some time she suffered her ridiculous ladyship to run on in a violent 
strain of panegyric upon Sir Matthew, his talents, and his gene- 
rosity, without offering any interruption, but at length it struck her, 
that fool as she was, Lady Clarissa might be able to tell her what 
she wanted to know ; and therefore, after answering " Indeed !" to 
some tirade about Sir Matthew's great qualities, Mary ventured to 
come across the torrent of her ladyship's eloquence by saying, 

" Pray, Lady Clarissa, who is that little boy?" 

" Who, my dear ? Good gracious, what an odd question ! Is 
it possible you do not know he is a poor little factory-boy, that Sir 
Matthew has most benevolently taken out of that sad way of life, 
because he behaved so remarkably well about that cow, you know, 
my dear, last night V 

" But why should you call it a sad way of life, Lady Clarissa ? 
It is the way that all our poor people get their bread, you know." 

" Yes, I suppose so. But yet, my dear, you cannot but allow 
that it must be a very different way of life from what the little 
children lead whose parents, from father to son, for a dozen 'gene- 
rations, have worked on the mains of one family. There can't be 
the same sort of family feeling and attachment, you know. How- 
ever, I have not the least doubt in the world, that good Sir Matthew 
does his very best to make them comfortable." 

" Is this boy to live in Sir Matthew's family V 

" I am not quite sure about that. I believe it depends in a great 
degree upon the manner in which the little fellow behaves ; and so 
it ought, you know, my dear Miss Brotherton. I rather think Mr. 
Augustus was making himself too agreeable this morning for you 
to hear much of the story. However, the exquisite muse of our 
friend, Norval, will set the transaction before all the world in a pro- 
per point of view ; and then you, like every body else, will be able 
to form your own judgment respecting the conduct of Sir Mat- 
thew." 

Again, Mary sunk into a revery concerning the respective coun- 
tenances of Sir Matthew and the little factory-boy ; but feeling quite 
sure that she should obtain none of the information she was burn- 
ing with impatience to acquire, from Lady Clarissa, the remaining 
part of the drive was passed entirely in silence on her part, except- 
ing that when Lady Clarissa askedher if she did not intend to take 
a part in the theatrical performances about to be brought out at 
Dowling Lodge, she replied, " No, certainly Lady Clarissa Shrimp- 
ton, I do not." 




/, ;>•///// '////,>' 



& 



, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 95 



CHAPTER X. 

MORE WILFULNESS ON THE PART OF THE HEIRESS PRIVATE THE- 
ATRICALS FAILURE OF A YOUNG PERFORMER, AND ITS CON- 
SEQUENCES PHILOSOPHICAL BREAKFAST-TABLE A MORNING 's 

EXCURSION. 

No sooner did Miss Brotherton enter the room where she had 
left her old friend, who was still tranquilly enjoying the perfumed 
air which visited her through the open window as she sat knitting 
before it, than throwing her bonnet on one side, she began to 
examine, and cross-examine her as follows : 

" Pray, Mrs. Tremlett, do you know any thing about the factory 
people that work in all these great ugly buildings round about Ash- 
leigh ?" 

Mrs. Tremlett looked up at her for a moment before she replied, 
and then said, " I know very little about them, Miss Mary, — not 
much more than you do, I believe." 

" I have just been thinking, Mrs. Tremlett, how exceedingly 
wrong it is that I should be so profoundly ignorant on the subject." 

" Wrong? — I don't see any thing wrong, my dear, in your not 
knowing what you was never told." 

" I have been wrong in never wishing to be told; but, in truth, 
I have never thought upon the subject, and I have been very wrong 
in this. That silly body, Lady Clarissa, said a few words to-day, 
which — quite unlike the usual effect of what she utters, made a 
great impression upon me. Speaking of the children who work in 
these factories, nurse Tremlett, she said theirs was a very different 
way of life from that of the children whose parents, from father 
to son, have worked for a dozen generations on the lands of the 
same family. There could not be the same sort of family feeling 
and attachment, she said. But why should there not, Mrs. Trem- 
lett? These people work on, I dare say, from generation to gene- 
ration, and yet, God help them, poor souls ! — from the hour of my 
birth to the present day, I never heard any body talk of attachment 
to them. Can you explain this difference to me ? I do not at all 
understand it ; but lam quite certain it cannot be right. Why do 
not we know something about our poor people, as the people with 
landed estates do about theirs V 

" Upon my word, my dear, you have asked me a question not 
over and above easy to answer — that is to say, as to its being right. 
But it is easy enough too, in another way, for I may say plain and 
and straight, without any fear of blundering, that the thing is im- 
possible." 

" What thing is impossible, Mrs. Tremlett?" 

" Why that the factory people should be noticed by the gentle* 
folks, and treated in the same way as labourers that work the 
land." 



96 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

M You are too wise a woman, Mrs. Tremlett," replied Mary, " to 
assert so positively, what you did not know to be true ; therefore I 
will take it for granted, that it is impossible for people working in a 
factory to be treated in the same way as people working on a farm. 
And now, seeing, God help me ! that I am most frightfully ignorant, 
I must beg you to tell me what it is that causes this extraordinary 
dissimilarity between the different classes of the labouring poor V 

" My dear child, it would hardly be decent to enter into all the 
reasons. Country folks, that is the field-labourers I mean, are just 
as likely to be good and virtuous, as their betters, and so they are 
for every thing that I have ever seen to the contrary. But it is 
altogether a different thing with the factory people. By what I can 
hear, for of course I never went among them, they are about the 
worst set of creatures that burden God's earth. The men are 
vicious, and the women desolate, taking drams often, and often 
when they ought to buy food ; and so horridly dirty and unthrifty 
that it is a common saying, you may know a factory-girl as far as 
you can see her. So I leave you to judge, Miss Mary, whether 
such ladies as visit the cottages of the poor peasantry, could have 
any thing to say to such as these." 

Mary uttered no reply, but sat for many minutes with eyes stead- 
fastly fixed upon the carpet. At length she raised them again to 
the face of her companion, and said, "It is then among such people 
as these, that children, almost babies — for such is the one I have 
just seen — are often employed ?" 

" Often, my dear ? They are always employed with them. And 
there's no particular hardship in that you know, because these very 
men and women are the parents of the children, and so they could 
not be separated any how." 

" What a dreadful class of human beings, then, must these fac- 
tory people form ! Is it not considered as a great misfortune, Mrs. 
Tremlett, to the whole country V 

" Why as to that, my dear Miss Mary, there's many will tell you 
that it is the finest thing in the world for the places where the great 
factories are established, because they give employment to so many 
thousands of men, women, and even the very smallest children that 
can stand, almost. But you must not ask me, my dear, what I 
think about that, for of course I am no fair judge at all. I, that 
spent my childhood in playing among the hairbells, raking up little 
cocks of hay for the hardest work I was put to, and going to 
school to read, write, and sew, like the child of decent Christian 
parents in a civilized country — I can hardly pass fair judgment on 
goings on so very different. But I have heard, my dear, for I be- 
lieve these things are talked of more in the servants' halls than 
among the great manufacturers themselves, especially when the 
ladies are by, — I have heard that a great many of the learned gen- 
tlemen in parliament say, that the whole system is a blessing to the 
country." 

" Then your account of it must be a very false one, nurse Trem- 
lett," said the young heiress severely. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 97 

" I only speak after much that I have heard, and a little that I 
have seen," replied the old woman meekly. " However, my -dear, 
dear Miss Brotherton," she added, " if you will take an old ser- 
vant's advice, who loves you very dearly, you will just make up 
your mind, neither to talk, nor to think any more upon the subject. 
I am quite sure that it will give you no pleasure, and it does not seem 
possible to me that you should do any good ; for you know, my 
dear, that you have nothing at all to do with any of the factories 
now, any more than Lady Clarissa herself. Will you promise to 
take my advice, my dear child, and think no more about it?" 

" On the contrary, Mrs. Tremlett," replied the young lady ; " I 
am perfectly determined that for some time to come I will think of 
nothing else." 

***** 

Mary Brotherton kept her word. During the whole time that the 
Dowling Lodge theatricals were in preparation, while every other 
young heart in the neighbourhood, male or female, was eagerly anti- 
cipating the fete, hers was fixed steadfast and immoveable upon the 
mysterious subject that had seized upon it. That man was born to 
labour, that he was condemned to live by the sweat of his brow, she 
knew from high authority ; and though under the social compacts 
which civilization has led to, some portion of every race have found the 
means of performing the allotted task vicariously, she felt not called 
upon to say that the arrangement was a bad one. It was by no means 
difficult to conceive why it was so, nor why of necessity it ever must 
be so. She felt, as all must do, who reflect on the subject, that if all 
distinctions were by some accident suddenly removed, and the entire 
organization of society to begin de novo, each man standing precisely 
on the same level as his neighbour, the earth would not complete one 
revolution round the sun, ere the equality would be violated. 

" Strength will be lord of imbecility/' 

And when nature made one man more active, more intelligent, or 
more powerful of frame than another, she made the law in which ori- 
ginated inequality of condition. That, as time rolled on, and mankind 
became bound together nation by nation, substituting the conventional 
distinctions of civilized society for those derived from individual 
strength, — that when this happened, occasional anomalies should appear 
in the arrangement, seemed inevitable, and of necessity to be endured. 
That it was inevitable, she conceived to be pretty nearly proved by the 
fact that no single authentic record makes mention of a nation in 
which hereditary distinction of some kind or other did not exist. Nor 
did it seem desirable that when the prowess, the wit, the wisdom, or 
the toil of an individual had endowed him with wealth beyond his 
fellows, he should be denied the dear privilege of endowing withal the 
children he loved, instead of leaving it at his death to be struggled 
for, and borne away by the most crafty or the most strong. AU this, 
Mary Brotherton, in her little wisdom of twenty-two years and a half, 

H 



98 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

could without difficulty reason upon and understand. But that among 
those whom fate or fortune had doomed to labour, some should be 
cherished, valued, honoured by the masters who received and paid 
their industry, while " other some" were doomed, under the same com- 
pact of labour and payment, to the scorn, avoidance, and contempt of 
the beings whose wealth and greatness proceeded from their toil, was 
an enigma she could in no wise comprehend. 

" There must be something wrong," argued the young girl, as day 
by day she paced her gravel walks in solitary meditation ; " there must 
be something deeply, radically wrong in a system that leads to such 
results. I may perhaps be silly enough to look with something 
approaching envy at the noble who traces his thirty descents un- 
broken from the venerable ancestor, whose valour won in a hard- 
fought field the distinction he still bears on his armorial coat, yet 
when I look round upon what the industry of my father — the only one 
of his race whose name I ever heard — when I contemplate what one 
man's industry can bequeath to his child, I feel that there is no very 
substantial cause for complaining of hereditary inferiority of condition. 
Nay, were I one of the peasants of whom the Lady Clarissa and 
nurse Tremlett speak, I can well enough believe that I might live and 
die contented with a life of healthful and respected toil. But to exist 
in the condition of these outcast labourers — to be thrust out, as it 
were, beyond the pale that surrounds and protects society — to live 
like the wretch, smitten by the witches' curse, ' a man forbid/ must 
be hard to bear. Children, young creatures still wearing the stamp of 
heaven fresh upon their brows, are, as it seems, amongst these 
wretched ones. I will find out why this is so, or be worried to death 
by Sir Matthew Dowling and his fellow great ones in the attempt." 

Towards the end of the month which preceded the grand display 
expected at Dowling Lodge, Mr. Osmond Norval requested permission 
to submit his composition to Miss Brotherton's perusal ; a compliment 
she graciously consented to receive, being desirous, before she witnessed 
its performance, of learning all she could respecting Sir Matthew's rather 
mysterious adoption of the factory-boy, and also of the poor child's 
equally mysterious sufferings under the benevolent process that was 
performing on him. 

The little drama, therefore, which for obvious classical reasons the 
poet denominated " A Masque," reached her hands enveloped in 
delicately-scented paper. But all she learned thereby was, that Mr. 
Norval had thought proper to entitle it, " Gratitude and Goodness," 
or, " The Romance of Dowling Lodge," and to prelude it by a sonnet 
to be spoken by himself as prologue, in which a modest allusion was 
made to Milton's composition of Comus for the use of the Bridge- 
water family. She had, moreover, the gratification of discovering in 
what order Sir Matthew, Lady Clarissa, the poet, the governess, most 
of the young Dowlings, and little Michael himself were to appear 
upon the scene, and then she returned the young gentleman's MS. 
with a very honest assurance that she doubted not the composition 
would most satisfactorily answer every purpose for which it was in- 
tended. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 99 

Absurd as the whole business appeared to her, she resolved to 
be present at the representation ; and having perceived, in her study 
of the exits and entrances, that no part was allotted to the homely 
Martha, she determined to place herself near her during the per- 
formance, in the hope of eliciting the information she was so anxious 
to obtain. 

On many occasions Miss Brotherton had remarked that this young 
lady either kept herself, or was kept very much apart from the rest of the 
family, which circumstance had been quite sufficient to propitiate her 
kindness, for most cordially did Mary Brotherton dislike the whole Dow- 
ling race. But so deep-seated was the feeling of poor Martha herself 
that nobody did, or could wish, to converse with her, that the hand- 
shakings and smiles of the heiress had never suggested to her the 
idea that she might wish to be better acquainted. This shyness had 
hitherto effectually kept them apart ; but no sooner did Mary per- 
ceive that the neglected girl was the only one of the family, above the 
age of a mere baby, to whom no part in Mr. Norval's drama was 
allotted, than she resolved to profit by the circumstance, and, if pos- 
sible, get from her such a commentary upon the piece, as might enable 
her to comprehend its plot and underplot. 

Accordingly, when the great night of representation arrived, Miss 
Brotherton reached the Lodge somewhat before the hour named in the 
invitation, and finding, as she expected, the room where the company 
were to be received, unoccupied, she desired one of the liveried 
attendants to send Miss Martha Dowling's maid to her. A female 
servant soon appeared. " Are you Miss Martha's maid V 9 said the 
young lady. 

" Oh ! dear no, ma'am, I am Miss Dowling's and Miss Harriet's 
maid. Miss Martha never wants a lady's maid at all ; but I can take 
any message from you, ma'am, that you may please to send." 

Miss Brotherton took one of her own cards, and wrote upon it 
with a pencil — " Dear Miss Martha, if you are not going to act in 
the play, will you have the kindness to come to me." 

This note the soubrette, as in duty bound, first showed to her own 
young ladies. 

" Good gracious I How very odd ! What can Miss Brotherton 
have to say to Martha? Martha ! of all people in the world. She is 
not ill, Crompton, is she?" said Miss Arabella. 

" Oh ! dear no, ma'am — at least she don't look so. She seemed in 
a great hurry, however, for me to take the card." 

''Well, take it then," cried Miss Harriet, impatiently, "and make 
haste, or I shall never get my ringlets done : they take such a time. 
Do give her the card, Arabella. What good is there in spelling it 
over a dozen times ? I dare say she only wants to cross-question her 
about Augustus, and what he's going to act. So take the card, 
Crompton, and run with it to Martha as fast as you can." 

Crompton and the card found Martha sitting still undressed in the 
obscure little room allotted to her in the children's wing. She was 
deep in the pages of a new romance, and being, if possible, more 

h 2 



100 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

certain than usual that her presence would not be wanted, had made 
up her mind to enjoy herself till the time arrived for the com- 
mencement of the play, when it was her purpose to join the large 
party invited, in their progress from the drawing-room to the 
theatre. 

On receiving Miss Brotherton's card, however, she hastily resumed 
the business of her toilet; for though the summons was as unintel- 
ligible to her as to her sisters, she felt, at least, an equal desire that 
it should be civilly complied with. It never took long to make poor 
Martha as smart as she ever thought it necessary to be, and in a very 
few minutes she joined Miss Brotherton in the drawing-room. 

" This is very kind of you, Miss Martha. I hope I have not hurried 
you?" said the heiress, taking her hand so kindly, that the shy girl 
could not but feel encouraged to speak to her with rather more con- 
fidence than usual. 

" Why are you not going to take a part ?" was the next question. 

"I take a part! Oh! Miss Brotherton what should I make of 
acting?" said Martha, laughing and blushing, in reply. 

" Nay I think you are very right, Martha. I assure you nothing 
could have persuaded me to have made the attempt. But I thought 
that if you did not play, you would perhaps have the kindness to 
take charge of me, and let me sit by you ; for unless I have somebody 
to tell me what it all means I shall be horribly puzzled." 

" I will tell you every thing I can," replied Martha, good- 
humouredly. " But I don't think I understand much about it 
myself." 

" What sort of a little boy is it that your papa has been so kind 
to? Every body is talking about it, and Lady Clarissa says there is 
something quite sublime in what he is going to do for him. But I 
suppose Sir Matthew must have remarked some qualities particularly 
amiable and good in the child, or he would not distinguish him so 
remarkably from all others of the same class/' 

" You have heard the story of his saving Lady Clarissa Shrimpton 
from the cow that was going to toss her, have you not, Miss Bro- 
therton V 

" Yes, my dear, I heard all that, you know, the morning I was here ; 
—though, by the by, you were not in the room, I remember. But there 
must be something more in it than that. Do tell me all you know." 

" Indeed I don't know any thing more," said Martha. 

" What sort of a child is it?" 

* i A very nice little fellow indeed, and I think if I had been papa I 
should have done the same thing myself." 

''Really! Then you do think this child is something out of the 
common way, I suppose ? Pray tell me, dear Martha, will you, if you 
hear much about the people that work in the factories ? and the chil- 
dren in particular?" 

" No, indeed, Miss Brotherton, I know nothing in the world about 
them ; except that I sometimes hear papa say that they are all very idle 
and ungrateful," replied Martha. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 101 

" I have been told that they are a very wretched set of people. 
But, perhaps, they cannot help it, Martha?" returned Mary. 

" I do not know how that can be, Miss Brotherton ; every body can 
help being idle, and everv body can help being ungrateful, I should 
think." 

" But it seems that they all live together, and make one another 
worse ; and, in that case, the children are very much to be pitied ; for, 
poor little things, they cannot help themselves. What makes you 
think this little boy is a nice child ? Have you ever talked to him 
much ?" 

" Yes, a good deal ; but papa has been taking him about to a great 
many houses ; and besides, he has been occupied very much in learn- 
ing his part, for Duo, who was teaching him, said that he could hardly 
read at all. So I have been trying to help him, and he is very quick. 
But I like him, too, because he appears so fond of his mother and bro- 
ther. He cares for nothing that can be given him, unless he can take 
some of it to them." 

" And does your papa let him do so ?" 

u Oh ! yes, every day." 

" That is very kind. Then I suppose the little fellow is superlatively 
happy?" 

** I don't know," replied Martha, with a slight shake of the head. 

" It is very strange if he be not," observed Miss Brotherton. " If 
he were kept from his mother I could easily understand that he might 
be very miserable, notwithstanding the great good luck that has be- 
fallen him ; but if he is permitted to see her constantly, I can't imagine 
what he can want more." 

" I don't know," again replied Martha. 

The expected guests began now rapidly to assemble, and refresh- 
ments were handed round previous to their being conducted to the room 
prepared for the evening's amusement. " Don't forsake me, dear 
Martha !" whispered Miss Brotherton, " I am not very intimate with 
any of these ladies and gentlemen, and I shall not enjoy the evening's 
amusement, unless I am seated next you." 

Martha felt a good deal surprised at the compliment, but readily 
agreed to the proposal ; and in a few minutes, Lady Dowling, who was 
any thing rather than pleased by the whole affair, gave the assembled 
party to understand that the time fixed for their entering the theatre 
had arrived. 

On tiptoe with curiosity, and eager beyond measure, to see what 
Lady Clarissa Shrimpton, Mr. Osmond Norval, and " all the Dow- 
lings " would look like on the stage, the numerous company almost 
ran over one another in the vehement zeal with which they prepared to 
obey her. 

Of course no expense had been spared in fitting up the apartment 
allotted to the purpose, in form and style as like as might be to a 
theatre ; and, thanks to the taste and ingenuity of the little French 
governess, the thing had been not only expensively, but well done. 
The space railed in for the orchestra very conveniently divided the 



102 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

company from the actors ; and, when the curtain drew up, the well- 
lighted stage exhibited just such a carpeted, draperied, mirrored, and 
flower-adorned arena, as well-dressed amateur ladies and gentlemen 
delighted to appear in. 

The very sight of the stage elicited a shout of applause ; and when 
Mr. Osmond Norval, habited at all points according to the most 
accredited draped portraits of Apollo, came forth from behind the sky- 
blue silken hangings which formed the coulisses, all the ladies began 
clapping till their little palms and fingers tingled with the unwonted 
exercise. 

The young poet certainly looked very handsome ; and not the less 
so because he knew that besides Miss Brotherton's eyes, which he was 
certain must be fixed upon him (though he could not distinguish her 
in the obscure corner in which she had chosen to place herself beside 
Martha), those of Miss Arabella and Miss Harriet Dowling (both 
estimated at twenty thousand pounds), were fixed upon him too. 
Not to mention the speaking orbs of Lady Clarissa Shrimpton, whose 
nobility, he had little doubt, might be won to smile upon and endow 
him with all the little earthly goods she had, could he make up his 
mind to believe that he could do no better. 

All this flattered, excited, and inspired him most becomingly ; and 
as he stood with one silken leg slightly advanced, and so firmly planted 
as to require only the toe of its fellow to support him from behind, 
with a lyre suspended round his neck, and a wreath of bay -leaves 
mixing with the dark curls upon his brow, at least two dozen young 
ladies in the manufacturing interest declared to their secret souls that 
they never could hope to see another like him. 

Having first recited the pretty sonnet before mentioned, in which he 
modestly hinted at more points of resemblance than one between him- 
self and Milton, he suddenly changed his hand, and having, as he 
expressed it to Lady Clarissa, " gleaned with the hand of a master," 
he spoke the following lines, which in the copies printed for private 
circulation, were headed 

" SHAKSPERIAN PROLOGUE. 

" Open your ears ! For which of you will stop 
The seat of hearing, when loud rumour speaks 1 
I, from the orient to the drooping west, 
Making the wind my post-horse, will unfold 
The act performed by virtuous Dowling here. 
Oh ! for a muse of fire that should ascend 
The brightest heaven of description ! 
Then should the noble Dowling, like himself 
Assume the form of mercy ; and, at his heels, 
Leashed in like hounds, should famine, pain, and labour, 
Crouch, all subdued!" &c. &c. 

The applause which followed this lasted so long, that the performers 
began to fear there would not be time enough left for the piece. But 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 103 

by degrees the tumult subsided, Apollo was permitted to retire, and 
the business of the scene began. 

There was something more nearly approaching a balance of power 
at Dowling Lodge than is often to be found in the domestic arrange- 
ments of gentlemen and their wives — for, though it may be a very 
doubtful point, whether man or wife most frequently get the mastery, 
it but rarely happens that the matter long remains unsettled. At 
Dowling Lodge, however, there was a beautiful alternation of power, 
which the measured movement of the engine in their factories, first send- 
ing up one side, and then the other, might, perhaps, have suggested. 
If matters came to a downright quarrel, however, Sir Matthew was 
sure to be the conqueror ; for her ladyship got frightened, and gave 
in ; but when any differences of opinion arose on points of no great 
importance, the lady's murmurings and mutterings were equally sure 
to be victorious, and Sir Matthew let her have her way, merely because, 
like the organ-grinder, " he knew the wally of peace and quiet." 

On the subject of the private theatricals, there was, most decidedly, 
a difference of opinion between the heads of the Dowling family, and 
some rough skirmishing might have ensued, had not Mademoiselle 
Beaujoie hinted to her good friend, Sir Matthew, that if they could 
introduce a scene or two, where all the dear little children could be 
shown off, Lady Dowling's objections would probably give way. The 
experiment was made, and answered completely; on condition, that 
" Gratitude and Goodness " should open and close with scenes in 
which the whole family should appear in fancy dresses, and be grouped 
by the dancing-master in the most graceful attitudes he could invent, 
Lady Dowling withdrew her opposition. As soon, therefore, as 
Apollo had retired from the front of the stage, no less than sixteen 
male and female Dowlings rushed forth from the silken hangings, and 
formed themselves, after some little confusion, into a tableau, 
declared, on all sides, to be of unrivalled beauty. Again bravoes and 
clapping of hands announced the delight of the spectators ; and, when 
this was calmed, some very pompous verses gave notice that this dis- 
play of youthful grace and beauty, was on occasion of a rustic fete, in 
which the dramatis personce were to amuse themselves al fresco. 
Then entered the Lady Clarissa ; but, for some good reason or other, 
it had been decided, between the knight and herself, that she should 
enter alone : and from a most poetical scream of terror, soon uttered 
by her ladyship, it became evident that a dragon, or a cow, or some 
other dreadful animal had been pursuing her. Again and again, with 
most picturesque effect, she looked behind her towards the blue 
silk coulisses, from whence she had issued, till, at length, the feel- 
ings of the audience were worked up to a wonderful pitch, by her 
ejaculating — 

" It comes ! It comes !" 

This was little Michael's cue ; and, as soon as the words were 
spoken, h e entered from the opposite side, holding a ragged cap on 



104 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

high, and dressed, in all respects, precisely as he had been on the 
memorable night of Lady Clarissa's vaccine adventure. 

In dumb show the lady indicated the direction from whence the 
dreaded monster would approach ; and the most energetic and un- 
sparing action of the limbs and person secured the audience, as well as 
her deliverer, from any possible mistake on the subject. Michael, too, 
performed his part with great spirit, exaggerating, as he had been 
commanded, by every possible means, the manoeuvres necessary for 
turning the front of a cow. 

To this scene, too, the audience gave loud applause, and in the 
midst of it entered Sir Matthew, who was, of course, greeted by bravoes, 
" long drawn out," till the ladies and gentlemen having nearly 
deafened one another, ceased at last, and listened to the beautiful 
explanation which followed. 

First the company were made to comprehend that the danger was 
over, for the well-taught Michael turned about, and manfully facing 
the audience, pronounced distinctly 

" The beast is gone I" 

Then Sir Matthew, after bowing respectfully to the lady, said, 

"Permit me, madam, to express my joy, 
That you've been saved by this good little boy." 

It was, however, uttered in an accent of such temperate and measured 
feeling, that not even Lady Dowling saw anything very particular in 
it. A precaution by the way, which had been suggested by the gen- 
tlemen during the frequent rehearsals. 

Lady Clarissa's acting then became animated indeed; for the poet, 
following her instructions, had composed for her in smooth, yet 
startling rhymes, about thirty lines of the most fervent thanksgiving, 
in which, now laying one hand on the head of the ragged child, now 
clasping both together in the eagerness of her address to Sir Matthew, 
and now gracefully extending both arms towards the audience, as if 
to make them sharers in her generous emotions, she produced an effect 
more easily imagined than described. 

The speech which followed from Sir Matthew was very noble, and 
at once let the audience into all the secret purposes of his benevolent 
heart. The by-play of Michael during this scene had been prepared 
for by his benefactor with particular care, but somehow or other the 
boy was not apt in catching the knight's idea ; for instead of the ten- 
der but joyous smile with which he had been instructed to look up 
into the face of his munificent patron, his countenance expressed 
nothing but terror. 

"That little fellow does not look happy, Martha," whispered Miss 
Brotherton. 

" Oh no ! he looks very frightened," replied Martha, " but that is 
very natural, is it not, considering the novelty of his situation V 

" I don't know," said the heiress. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 



105 



The piece went on to exhibit the beautiful manner in which this 
adoption of a ragged factory-boy into the bosom of the Dowling family 
had been hailed by all of them as an especial grace from heaven, on 
account of the opportunity it afforded for relieving the overflowing 
generosity of their hearts. Sir Matthew, while looking round upon 
his sixteen full-dressed offspring, who were now again skilfully 
grouped upon the stage, was made to exclaim with clasped hands, 
and an almost sobbing excess of emotion, 

" The widow and the orphan are more dear, 
To their young hearts, than million pounds a year !" 

Every body was touched, and again the applause was deafening. 

Then came a very striking scene indeed. Michael appeared 
superbly dressed, and on each side of him was a middling-sized Miss 
Dowling, holding lightly and gracefully each a little basket, from 
under the covers of which peeped out grapes and peaches on the one 
side, and something that had the semblance of a flask of wine on the 
other. 

Then spoke the fair-haired Louisa. 

" Dear little boy, this basket's all your own, 
'Tis to reward the courage you have shown." 

And then Miss Charlotte. 

" So is this too, my pretty little boy, 
We hope 'twill give your poor old mother joy." 

And when Michael, having received a basket in each hand, appeared 
preparing to depart, the two young ladies exclaimed together, 

" 'Tis papa sends it, who's so very kind, 
How to do good, is all he seeks to find !" 

Upon this, Michael turned round again towards the audience, and 
stood stock still. It was quite evident that he had some speech to 
make which he had apparently forgotten, for it was impossible for any 
child to look more completely distressed and at a loss. 

At length it became pretty evident that, in lieu of all other per- 
formance, the poor boy was going to cry ; and some ingenious per- 
sons doubted whether it might not be in his part to do so ; but this 
idea was speedily removed by the very matter-of-fact pokes and 
nudges which the two young ladies bestowed upon him. In addition 
to this it seemed as if the little fellow caught some stimulating sounds 
from the coulisses, for he cast more than one furtive glance in that 
direction, and at length, with what was evidently a great effort, he 
stammered out, 

"My mother's dear, and so's my brother too, 
But dearer still are your papa and you. 
His charity's so great, his heart so good, 
He gives the naked clothes ; the hungry food ; 
And I for — one — will, — day — and night — in prayer, 
Ask blessings — for — him—- and — his— worth declare." 



106 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

The two last lines were so completely choked by the tears, which 
all his efforts could not suffice to restrain, that they were perfectly 
unintelligible to the audience. 

" Is all that vehemence of weeping a part of Mr. Norvars com- 
position V inquired Miss Brotherton in a whisper to Martha. 

" Upon my word I don't know : but I should think not," was the 
reply. 

" Martha!" said the heiress, very earnestly, " that child is suffering 
from an agony of terror." 

" I should hope not," said Martha, in a voice that somewhat 
faltered. 

"Do you know any thing about this boy?'* pursued Miss Bro- 
therton, continuing her whispering. " Do you know any thing about 
the mother he talks of V 

" Nothing whatever, Miss Brotherton." 

" Do you feel quite satisfied, my dear, that this romantic adventure 
has been, or will be, advantageous to him ?" 

"I think," replied Martha, "that one can hardly doubt his being 
better off here than in the poverty of his mother's dwelling. You saw, 
Miss Brotherton, what a ragged condition the clothes were in which 
he had worn before." 

" Decent clothes are a comfort, my dear Martha, there can be no 
doubt of it ; but compared with the other circumstances which in- 
fluence the happiness of life, they are of no great importance. Of 
course I suppose that your father means to educate him. Do you 
know whether he can read his bible yet ?" 

" I know that he could not," replied Martha, " when he came 
here." 

" Poor little wretch ! That is very terrible neglect somewhere. 
What sort of person is the mother?" 

" By Michael's account," replied Martha, smiling, "she is a very 
estimable person indeed ; but it certainly seems that she has not taken 
much pains with his education, poor little fellow !" 

" What a sad thing it is," continued Miss Brotherton, " that we all 
of us know so little of the poor people employed in the factories ! I 
believe they are said to be exceedingly well paid, but still I don't 
think it is quite right for the rich people in a neighbourhood to take 
no notice whatever of the poor. I know it is not so in other places ; 
for I have heard my schoolfellows continually talk of their fathers' 
tenants and work-people, and of their schools, and their clothing 
societies, and all sorts of things, and I have been trying to do a little 
good just at home with the families of some of the work-people about 
the place. But I have just now'got my head strangely full of these 
factory folks. I wish you could give me some information about 
them, Martha." 

" Indeed, my dear Miss Brotherton, I know as little as you do. I am 
told that they are very good-for-nothing, that they receive enormous 
sums annually in wages, and yet that they are never contented, but 
for ever complaining, just because they have work to do for what they 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 107 

get, and yet papa says that it is the very prettiest lightest work in the 
world. And indeed I am afraid it is but too true, for this little fellow, 
though he is so interesting and intelligent that it is impossible to help 
liking him, always speaks of the factory as if he hated it." 

" And if he does hate it, Martha, why, if you question him should 
he conceal it?" 

" But I never have questioned him about that ; I should not think 
it right to do so. Only I remember his making me laugh, just after 
he came here, by saying something exceedingly naive about their all 
liking wages but not work. Now, though I am not very deep in poli- 
tical economy, it is impossible not to see that poor people must work 
for what they get — don't you think so V 

" Assuredly, and rich people too. I have no doubt that both your 
father and my father had to work very hard for the fortunes which have 
rewarded their industry. In our class of life this is necessary. But 
that does not settle the question that is working in my head at pre- 
sent, and which, to tell you the truth, will not let me sleep by night 
nor amuse myself by day. How comes it that all the people — the 
only phrases I have heard upon the subject were very comprehensive — 
how comes it, Martha Dowling, that all the people, young and old, 
who work in the factories are classed as ignorant and depraved V 

11 My dear Miss Brotherton, how is it possible that I should be able 
to answer you V 

" Have you not heard the same statement, Martha V 

" Oh, yes ! very often, I know mamma says that nothing in the 
world should induce her to take a girl who had worked in the fac- 
tories into the house, even in the very lowest situation. Oh! I 
believe they are very bad I" 

" Very bad ? But, good gracious ! why are they very bad ? What is 
the cause of this strange degradation of one peculiar class of human 
beings ? It surely cannot arise from the nature of their employment ; 
for if it did, of course the clergy of the neighbourhood would interfere 
to stop it. It is quite out of the question to suppose that in a 
Christian country many hundreds — nay thousands — Mrs. Tremlett 
tells me there are many thousands employed in the factories — it is 
impossible to suppose, is it not, that any labour or occupation could 
be permitted, which by its nature, and of necessity, tended to corrupt 
the morals of those employed in it ? There must be some other cause 
for their wickedness, if wicked they are." 

" Oh! they are very wicked, I am quite sure of that; for I have 
heard it again and again ever since I was born, and you know I have 
not been away like you, Miss Brotherton, always in London. I have 
never lived any where but here, and* I never remember the time when 
I did not hear that the factory people were the very wickedest set of 
wretches in the world." 

For a few minutes Miss Brotherton was silent, and even seemed to 
have restored her attention to the silly business of the gaudy stage, for 
her eyes were fixed in that direction ; but she presently gave evidence 
that wherever her eyes had been, her thoughts had not wandered 



108 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

from the subject to which she appeared so earnestly to have devoted 
them. For she said in the low, slow, even tone, which denotes con- 
centrated feeling — 

" If this be so, Miss Martha Dowling, if thousands of human beings 
in a Christian country are stigmatized as wicked, because their destiny 
has placed them in a peculiar employment, that employment ought to 
be swept for ever and for ever from the land, though the wealth that 
flowed from it outweighed the treasures of Mexico." 

Martha Dowling started, but said not a word in reply ; there was 
something in the manner of her neighbour which awed her. True, 
genuine, deep feeling, is always sublime, be it manifested by such a 
young girl as Mary Brotherton, or such an old king as Lear. But, 
though Martha was silent, her companion suffered not the conversation 
to drop; and presently resumed in a tone of less exaltation, — " Do 
you think, my dear, that I could get hold of your little Michael some 
day, so that I might have a little conversation with him ?" 

" Yes, certainly, Miss Brotherton," replied Martha, u I think papa 
would be quite pleased, for he seems to like nothing better than seeing 
every body take notice of him." 

" Do you think your father loves the little boy, Martha?" 

" I am sure he is very kind to him," replied the conscious daughter a 
little piqued. " For it can be nothing but kindness that makes him 
take the child into the house, and feed him and clothe him for nothing." 

" And, of course, Martha, he will get some instruction here?" 

'* Oh ! he has begun to read the bible already," replied the kind- 
hearted girl, eagerly. " I have undertaken that business myself. The 
poor little fellow seemed to suffer so, when he was learning his part/ 
I never saw a child appear so heartily ashamed of any thing." 

" One almost wonders at that too ; brought up, as he must have 
been, in the very lap of ignorance. I should have thought, after all I 
have heard, that he would have been ashamed of nothing. However, 
I should like to talk to him. At what hour do you give him his reading 
lesson, Martha?" 

" When I can catch him," replied the young lady, laughing. You 
have no idea, Miss Brotherton, how much the little gentleman is en- 
gaged. Papa has taken him about with him in the carriage, almost 
every where, and such quantities of people have been to see him !" 

" And does he seem greatly delighted with it all ?" 

" No, I don't think he does. He seems to me to care for nothing 
in the world but his mother, and a little crippled brother that he 
talks of." 

" That does not look as if he were thoroughly confirmed in wicked- 
ness as yet," observed the heiress. 

" No, indeed ! It is his affectionate temper that has made me take 
to him ; for I do believe he is very idle, and hates his work, just as 
papa says they all do," answered Martha. 

" Does he visit his mother every day ?" 

" He either goes or sends to her, I believe. Papa makes a great 
point of something very nice being taken down to Ashleigh every day 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 109 

for Michael's sick mother to eat ; and the child always carries it him- 
self, when papa does not send him elsewhere. " 

" And at what hour does he generally go V 

" Always after luncheon." 

" Don't you think the play must be almost come to an end, Martha?" 
said Miss Brotherton, after looking again on the stage for a few mi- 
nutes, and yawning rather more conspicuously than politeness could 
warrant. 

" I should think it must," replied Martha, catching, and returning 
the yawn. 

There was, however, a good deal to be done. There was a figure 
dance to be performed, and a trio to be played on the pianoforte, harp, 
and violoncello, by the two eldest Miss Dowlings, and their music- 
master. 

This last was a very long business : and the heiress, who, instead of 
having been instructed to endure annoyances patiently, had been 
rather taught never to endure them at all, got up iti the middle of it, 
and telling Martha that her head ached too much to permit her re- 
maining any longer, made her way out of the room, which she effected 
the more easily from having taken her station near a side door, which 
led from the theatre (in ordinary phrase, the school-room) into the 
private apartments of Mademoiselle Beaujoie. 

Martha Dowling, of course, followed her, and expressed much con- 
cern for her malady, offering all the specifics usually suggested by 
one lady to another, under such circumstances. " No, thank you," 
was the reply she received to all, " I only want to get away." 

" But it will not be very easy to do so, this way," replied Martha, 
" unless you will condescend to go through the passage that leads from 
the offices." 

" Never fear, dear Martha," returned the self-willed young lady, "I 
will condescend to go through any passage that will lead to fresh air, 
for indeed that place was too hot 1" 

The room they first entered on passing through the door, was one 
dedicated to the reception of globes, slates, guitars, dumb bells, dic- 
tionaries, embroidering-frames, and sundry other miscellanies con- 
nected with an enlarged system of education. Beyond this was the 
bedchamber of Mademoiselle, which again led to an apartment 
opening upon that part of the school-room now occupied as the stage. 
This room, which was denominated Mademoiselle Beaujoie's parlour, 
was now converted into a general green-room and dressing-room, for 
into this, all exits from the stage were made. 

While still in the bedroom, Miss Brotherton, and her more than 
half-frightened companion, heard voices speaking in no very pleasant 
accents from this theatrical retreat, and the angry tones of Sir Matthew 
Dowling himself were soon unmistakably audible. 

" Let us go back, pray let us go back !" said the greatly distressed 
Martha, in a whisper. 

" I am too ill, my dear, to bear that room again," rewhispered Miss 
Brotherton. " Let me sit down here for a few minutes, and I shall 



110 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

recover myself; and then we can return, and go out the other way 
with the rest of the company." 

It was impossible to argue the point ; so poor Martha submitted, 
though cruelly distressed at the idea of her father's private violence of 
temper being listened to by one of those who had never seen Dowling 
Lodge, or its inhabitants, excepting in full dress. This distress was by 
no means lessened when some very audible words made it evident that 
Michael Armstrong was the object of the angry feelings to which he 
was now giving vent. As the best thing' to be done under the cir- 
cumstances ; she pointed to a sofa at the greatest distance from the 
imperfectly-closed door from whence the sounds issued ; but Miss 
Brotherton had already dropped into a chair so near this door of com- 
munication that she not only heard, but saw all that was passing in 
that part of the green-room which Sir Matthew Dowling occupied. 
That this was the last place in which a gentlewoman would have been 
likely to place herself at such a moment, is most certain ; but the ca- 
pricious heiress was wont to exclaim on many occasions, when ob- 
servance and restraint were irksome to her, " I am not a gentlewoman 
— and why should I torment myself by affecting to be one." 

It was probably by some such reasoning that she now justified to 
herself the strong measure she was adopting ; in order to become ac- 
quainted with what was passing behind the scenes respecting Michael 
Armstrong. 

Circumstances were favourable to the object ; for Sir Matthew was 
in one of those towering fits of passion, to which his family and de- 
pendants knew him to be subject, though the majority of the world 
declared him to be an extremely good-natured man. 

" Blackguard ! — Vermin ! — Devil's imp !" — were among the first 
intelligible words which reached the heiress, after she had seated her- 
self; and these were accompanied by cuffs so heavy on the head and 
shoulders of Michael, that it required a very powerful effort over her- 
self to prevent her darting forward to seize the arm that gave them. 
But this prudent effort was dictated and sustained by a stronger feel- 
ing than curiosity ; and she remained perfectly still to await what 
should follow. 

Dr. Crockley, who, though not among the corps of performers, had 
been permitted to be useful behind the scenes in a variety of ways, and 
among the rest had acted as prompter, stood beside the trembling 
child, and it was to his friendly ear that the irritated Sir Matthew ad- 
dressed himself. 

" Will you believe he did not do it on purpose ? Will you believe 
Crockley, that there was any thing to make him cry then I Had we 
not borne with all his beastly stupidity, expressly for the purpose of 
keeping the little ungrateful monster in good humour ? Hadn't I fed 
him, and crammed him, as you bid me, with what was too good for 
him ever to have reached the smell of? Didn't I cosset his lazy 
beast of a mother with such niceties as the dirty beggar never heard of 
before ? And his crook-shanked rat of a brother, too, haven't they been 
all fed at my cost for more than a month past ? And then to see this 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. Ill 

black-hearted traitor come upon the stage, and cry before all the 
company as if his heart was breaking ?" 

" It's too bad to bear," replied Dr. Crockley, " and if he was to be 
flayed alive and salted, it would not be half what he deserved." 

" Wouldn't the best thing I could do be to send him back into the 
factory to-morrow morning, Doctor?" demanded Sir Matthew, sud- 
denly quitting his hold of the child, and setting his square arms 
akimbo. " By the living God ! I am sick of the job." 

" I will be very good, sir, if you will," said the boy, " and I won't 
go to sleep at the work at all, and no more won't Edward neither, if 
you will but please to let me go back again." 

" You see how much he dreads the factory," said Sir Matthew, with 
a grim smile. "But," nodding his head, and winking his eye 
familiarly to the child, " we shall see, my pretty dear, if Mr. Parsons 
can't contrive to do something more than just keep you awake. He 
shall go back, Crockley, upon my soul he shall. It is the only way 
to prevent his driving me mad. I loathe the very sight of him." 

" You must do as you like, Sir Matthew," replied his confidential 
friend, "but it will be the most d — d foolish thing you ever contrived 
in your life, if you do. I tell you the story is doing wonders every 
where ; and now, because a stupid brat can't say his lesson perfect, 
you are just going to spoil it all." 

" His lesson perfect ! Confound the sly vagabond, that was not the 
point, Crockley. It was not the lesson that choked him. How much 
will you bet me that if I get fifty lines written down abusing me and 
nothing else in 'em, he won't learn them off as glib and perfect as any 
actor on the stage ? I know his black heart, and he shall find out 
that mine is not made of pap before I have done with him." 

" That's all right and fair enough, and I have nothing to say against 
it," replied the friendly physician, ** and let us talk it all over quietly to- 
gether to-morrow morning ; but for to-night — " And here Dr. Crockley 
taking his friend by the arm led him to the door which opened upon 
the stage, .from whence issued a tintamarre of instruments sufficient to 
cover whatever he might wish to say, not only from the ear of little 
Michael, but from all others. The moment selected by the angry 
knight for relieving himself of the wrath which burned within him 
would have been a most favourable one, but for the accidental vicinity 
of Miss Brotherton. While the whole corps of performers, excepting 
the manufacturer and the factory-boy, were grouped upon the stage, 
in a style the most favourable for the display of their persons and 
dresses, the trio above mentioned augmented, by way of finale, by 
tambourines and triangles, went steadily on in a crescendo movement 
that ended in a clamour rendered perfect by the last peal of applause 
from the wellnigh worn-out audience, so that their secret conference 
was not otherwise likely to be overheard. 

At the moment after Sir Matthew had declared his intention of 
teaching Michael to know what his heart was made of, and just as he 
was himself led off by his friend Crockley, Miss Brotherton, pressing 
her two hands strongly upon her breast, involuntarily pronounced the 



112 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

word " Monster !" and then placing her hands before her eyes re- 
mained lost in no very pleasing revery. But hardly had her medi- 
tations lasted a moment, ere they were chased by hearing the sound 
of some one falling near her, and looking round, she perceived poor 
Martha stretched insensible upon the floor. 

Inexpressibly shocked at remembering, which she did by no slow 
action of the mind, the suffering to which her own unscrupulous curi- 
osity had exposed the unfortunate girl, she ran to her with eager haste, 
and with much repentant tenderness raised her head and did all her 
small experience suggested towards restoring her. The comfortable 
insensibility did not last long ; and Martha, who with restored ani- 
mation immediately recovered her recollection, and in whose com- 
position no affectation of any kind had part, raised herself without 
assistance from the ground, and silently placed herself upon a sofa. 

" Dear excellent Martha V exclaimed Miss Brotherton, with much 
true feeling, " fear not that I should ever repeat what I have so acci- 
dentally heard ; and let not your good and dutiful nature suffer thus, 
because I have heard it. We have all our faults, Martha, and it is 
the duty of each to pray for the conversion of their own hearts first, 
and then for the repentance of others. And what prayers, dear girl, 
so likely to be heard, as those of a good and dutiful child? Let us 
slip back to our places, Martha. This clapping of hands announces, 
as I take it, the conclusion of the piece." 

Martha, though wounded to the very soul, uttered no word of de- 
precation or complaint ; but there was an unsophisticated simplicity of 
character about her which made her decline, by a courtesy that had a 
little of the stiffness of ceremony in it, the offered arm of Mary, 
and stepping forward she opened the door by which they had left the 
theatre, till the heiress had passed through it, and resumed her 
place. 



CHAPTER XI. 



MISS BROTHERTON PUSHES fllER INQUIRIES FURTHER A WELL- 
ARRANGED SCHEME DISAGREEABLY DEFEATED A VISIT, AND ITS 

CONSEQUENCES. 

Mary Brotherton certainly did not return home that night with 
any doubts on her mind respecting the nature of Sir Matthew Dow- 
ling's benevolence ; but the fever of spirits which had seized her was 
greatly increased by the information she had gained. 

There was a vast deal of energy and strength of purpose in the 
mind of Mary Brotherton, but hitherto all this had lain latent and 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 113 

inert. The sentiment which in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred is 
the first to awaken the female heart to strong emotion seemed to be 
totally powerless to her. She had never yet felt the slightest approach 
to the passion of love; nor was it very likely she should, for one 
among her many peculiarities of character was the persuasion that 
every man who paid her attention was in pursuit of her fortune, an 
idea, which to such a temper as hers was calculated to act as a. 
sevenfold shield against all amatory attacks upon her heart. 
Most truly therefore, up to this time, had she continued 

" In maiden meditation, fancy free." 

But this could be said no longer ; neither fancy nor any other faculty 
could be termed free in one whose thoughts fixed themselves by night 
and day upon one single subject, while feeling that to it she was ready 
to sacrifice every thing else in life. 

On re-entering her house on the memorable night of the Dowling 
Lodge theatricals, Miss Brotherton retired to her apartment without 
even the intention of sleeping. She laid, her head upon her pillow 
deliberately determined not to close her eyes in sleep till she had 
made up her mind as to the best way of rescuing the pale trembling 
child, whose voice and form haunted her, from the horrible bondage 
of Sir Matthew Dowling's charity. 

The question was not altogether an easy one. She could hardly 
doubt that very strong indignation would follow any open effort on 
her part to interfere with a child publicly held up as the favoured 
object of Sir Matthew's loudly-vaunted benevolence, and moreover, 
privately marked out by his vindictive nature as a victim to his 
hatred. 

Whether as a rival in his munificence, or a champion against his 
hate, it was pretty certain that her interference would render her 
obnoxious to her pompous neighbour's displeasure, and this she had 
no inclination to encounter if she could help it. For though at this 
moment she felt within her a strength and firmness of purpose not 
easily shaken, the poor girl knew that she stood alone in the world, 
with no friend to support her more powerful than nurse Tremlett, and 
nothing but her two hundred thousand pounds' worth of this world's 
trumpery to enable her to have her way, and her will, in many matters 
that she feared might turn out rather difficult to manage. 

So she determined to avoid quarrelling with Sir Matthew Dowlin<£ 
as long as she could, and though the image of Michael struggling with 
his tears, and the plaintive sound of his voice as he pleaded for leave 
to labour again, absolutely haunted her memory, she determined upon 
being cautious, wise, and very deliberative in any measures she might 
eventually take to ensure his release. 

Under the influence of these prudential resolutions, Miss Bro- 
therton tor the present abandoned her purpose of seeking a conver- 
sation with the child himself, and determined to find her way to the 
cottage of his mother instead. Yet even this she felt must be done 
with caution. Her carriage and her liveries were about as splendid 

i 



114 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and conspicuous as carriage and liveries could be, and though she 
knew not precisely in what direction the widow Armstrong might be 
found, it was easy enough to guess that did she make use of her 
ordinary mode of conveyance in reaching her abode, let it be where it 
might, she would attract more attention than she desired. 

It was to Mrs. Tremlett that she determined to apply in this di- 
lemma, and at their tete-a-tete breakfast on the following morning, 
she once more led the conversation to the factories. 

" You must not scold me, dear friend," said she, " if you find that 
I have, as I told you I would, disobeyed your advice altogether, about 
thinking no more of the factory people, for I cannot get them out of 
my head, nurse Tremlett." 

" I am sorry for it, my dear," replied the good woman, gravely ; 
" because I am quite sure that you will only vex yourself, and do no 
good." 

" You ought to know me better by this time, Mrs. Tremlett, than to 
fancy that your manner of speaking on this dark subject is the way to 
check my curiosity. It was pretty effectually awakened perhaps 
before ; but had it been otherwise, what you say would be quite enough 
to set me upon inquiring into it. Nurse Tremlett, I will know every- 
thing that the most persevering inquiry can teach me respecting the 
people to whose labours all the rich people in this neighbourhood owe 
their wealth, and myself among the rest. And when I tell you that 
at the present moment this is the only subject upon which I feel any 
real interest, I think you are too wise to attempt turning me from it, by- 
saying, < My dear you will only vex yourself.' " 

" I do indeed, my child, know you too well to fancy that if you 
have set your mind upon it, you will give it up ; so I have nothing 
more to say, Miss Mary." 

*' Well then, my dear woman," replied Mary, taking her hand, " if, 
through all the years we have passed together, I have shown such a 
determined spirit for no reason in the world but only to get my own 
wanton silly will, do me the justice to anticipate that I shall not be 
less obstinate in this one thing, that I believe to be right, than in all 
the many wherein it was most likely I suspected myself to be wrong. 
I do believe, nurse Tremlett, that it is my duty to understand this mat- 
ter better than I do ; and if this be so, I will trust to God to make up 
to me for all the vexation your prophecy threatens it will bring." 

" If that is the way you think of it, my dear child, Heaven forbid that 
I should seek to hinder you. But rich as you are, dear Mary, if you 
was to give it all, and ten thousand times as much besides, what good 
could it do? The mills would go on just the same you know." 

" I don't want to stop the mills, nurse Tremlett. Why should I? 
Industry, ingenuity, science, enterprise, must of course be all brought 
into action by this flourishing cotton-trade, and, beyond all doubt, 
it would be equally wicked and wild to wish its destruction. That is 
not the notion I have got hold of, good nurse, very, very far from it, I 
assure you. What I want to find out is whether, by the nature of 
things, it is impossible to manufacture worsted and cotton wool into 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 115 

articles useful to man, without rendering those employed upon it unfit 
to associate with the rest of their fellow-creatures ? This seems to 
me so gross an absurdity that I cannot give faith to it, and therefore 
I suspect that the depravity and wickedness you and Miss Martha 
Dowling talk about, must arise from these people having too much 
money at their command. This, perhaps, may lead to intemperance 
and extravagance. Don't vou think this may be the case, Mrs. 
Tremlett V 

" Good gracious, no, Miss Mary ! Why they are all the very 
poorest starving wretches upon earth." 

" But they may be poor because they are extravagant, nurse. They 
must get a most monstrous quantity of money, for though none of the 
gentlemen ever talk much of their factories, I have repeatedly heard 
allusion made to the enormous sums paid every week to the work- 
people. And it is quite clear that all the families must get a great 
deal, because all the little children work, which can hardly be the case 
elsewhere. Now, I cannot help thinking, nurse, that a great deal of 
good might be done by teaching them a little economy, and inducing 
them to lay by their superfluous money in a savings-bank. That is one 
great reason why I want to get acquainted with the people themselves. 
Now, for instance, that poor sick widow Armstrong — the mother of 
the little boy that Sir Matthew Dowling has taken ; I am quite sure 
that she can have no wickedness to hurt me — and I am determined, 
nurse, to go and call upon her." 

" Well, my dear, that can't do no great harm, certainly; and, if 
you like it, I can go in the carriage with you." 

" Most certainly I should like you to go with me, but not in the 
carriage, Mrs. Tremlett. I don't want to have all the people in her 
neighbourhood staring at me, or at her either ; and that they would be 
sure to do if we went in the carriage. I mean to walk, nurse." 

** Do you know where the woman lives, my dear?" 

" No ; I must leave you to find that out." 

" What is her name, Miss Mary ?" 

"Armstrong. She is a widow, and lives somewhere in Ashleigh. 
Let us walk into the garden, and while I am looking after my seed- 
lings, you can inquire of one of the under-gardeners, or the boy. 
And if you manage the matter well, the next prime blossom that I get 
from my experiment-bed, shall be called the Tremlett geranium." 



While this conversation was going on at Millford Park, the residence 
of Miss Brotherton, Dr. Crockley arrived to enjoy a tete-a-tete break- 
fast with Sir Matthew in ; ' the study " at Dowling Lodge. This room, 
though not so splendid as some of its neighbours under the same roof, 
could, nevertheless, be made very snug and comfortable upon occa- 
sion, and an excellent breakfast was spread before them ; while the 
two gentlemen sat in judgment upon little Michael's contumacy, and 
consulted on the best method of bringing him into better order. 

" Confound the imp !" exclaimed Sir Matthew, as he selected his 

i2 



116 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

favourite dainties, " is it not provoking, Crockley, that I should have 
taken such an aversion to him ? Upon my soul, I never hated any 
thing- so much in my life. In the first place it is disgusting to see 
him dressed up, walking about the house like a tame monkey, when I 
know that his long fingers might be piercing thousands of threads for 
two shillings a week ; and it is neither more nor less than loathsome 
to see him eat, at luncheon, sometimes when we have had him in be- 
fore company, exactly the very same things that my children eat 
themselves ; and then upon the back of it all, to know that the un- 
grateful little viper hates the very sight of me. I don't believe, 
Crockley, that any good can come of all this, equal to what it makes 
me suffer in the doing. It is perfectly unnatural to see him close 
within an inch of my own legs. I'd rather have a tame toad crawling 
about by half. I must give it up, Crockley — I must, upon my soul." 

" You are the master, Sir Matthew. I can't stop you, if do it you 
will; but I can tell you this, I have been calling at fifty different 
houses, at the very least/ sincethis job began, and I pledge you my sacred 
honour that in every one of them the only thing talked of was your 
benevolence and generosity. * Such an example !' cried one ; ' So 
heavenly-minded !' said another ; ' It is enough to bring a blessing- 
upon the whole country,' whined a third ; and, ' It is to be hoped that 
such goodness will be rewarded in this world and the next,' observed 
a fourth. Think, Sir Matthew, how all this will tell against the 
grumblings about Miss Nance Stephens and her sudden demise/' 

" That's true — devilish true, Crockley — and yet it's no cure for my 
being sick at the stomach every time I see him." 

" I don't know about that ; I should think it was, or, at any rate, 
if you'll only bear it a little longer I should not be at all surprised if 
you were to be relieved by some other great capitalist setting up in the 
same way, and as your name has been sung out, that would do just 
as well. Upon my soul, I'm in earnest; I should not the least 
wonder if, before the end of three months, every one of your first-rates 
were to have a tame factory-child in their houses, to act like the 
hedgehogs we get to eat black-beetles for us. And they'd do their 
work well too, Sir Matthew: all the nasty, creeping, multiplying 
plagues, in the shape of evil tales against the factory system, would 
be swallowed up by the clearing-off effects of these nice little hedge- 
hog gentry." 

" You are as keen as your own lancet, Crockley ; and I never turn 
a deaf ear to any thing you say. But it's monstrous hard though, that 
I can't walk about my own house without running the risk of seeing 
this odious little grub. By the way, Crockley, why could not my lady 
take a factory-girl in by way of charity? Some of the little wenches 
are sightly enough before they have worked-down their flesh too far; 
and, though I can't say I am" particularly tender over the lanky idiot 
looking slatterns that we mostly get at the mill, I'll bet what you please 
that I should never hate the sight of a girl, as I do the sight of this 
boy." 

" Very likely not, Sir Matthew," replied the doctor, laughing im- 



MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 117 

moderately. " But what would my lady say ? And what would all 
the other ladies say ? No, no, leave that alone, and make up your 
mind to let the boy have the run of the house for a month or two ; 
after which you may send him to the devil if you will ; for the good 
will be done, and the boy himself forgotten." 

"That's all vastly easy for you to lay down, chapter and verse, 
wise man that you are," replied the knight. " But if I tell all, I can 
let you into a secret, Crockley, that would make you change your 
mind, perhaps. The long and the short of it is, that I can't keep my 
hands off him, and if the young black-hearted scamp — I know he is 
black-hearted, I'm quite sure of it on account of a look he has got 
with his eyes, that makes one always feel so uncomfortable — if he 
were to take it into his vile ungrateful head to go about the country 
teliing every thing that I may have happened to say and do to him, 
when his nasty ways have pushed me further than I could bear, I don't 
think the history of the charity job would do much good, doctor." 

Doctor Crockley gave a long low whistle ; and then, after a 
minute's meditation, said, " That's a bore." 

" I know it is," sharply responded his patron, " a devilish bore. 
But you don't suppose that I am to stand bursting with rage, and not 
take the liberty of speaking my mind to a factory grub, do you?" 

f* Heaven forbid ! A whole factory full of wenches may all drop down 
dead, I hope, before it comes to that," replied his friend. " But 
what you have stated is worth attention, Sir Matthew. I don't like 
the notion of that child's having tales to tell. It spoils all." 

* I know it," returned the vexed knight. " Martha told me just 
now, not ten minutes before you came, that Miss Brotherton said she 
should like very much to talk to the boy : she is as sharp as a needle, 
you know, and I'll answer for it would find out all he has got to tell, 
and a devilish deal more, perhaps, in no time. Pretty work that 
would make ! would it not ? Augustus is sure of her, he tells me ; and 
just fancy such a match as that spoiled by the forked tongue of this 
little viper ! The very notion makes one mad." 

" A cure must be found for that mischief, let it cost what it may," 
replied Crockley ; " and for the future it might be better, perhaps, for 
your charity, Sir Matthew, to show itself some other way. You are 
too honest-hearted, that's the fact. A fine bold intellect, like yours, 
can't descend to the paltry patience belonging to inferior minds. Is 
there no getting rid of the boy ? No possibility of sending him 'pren- 
tice some where or other?" 

"'Prentice?" said Sir Matthew, looking with a very singular ex- 
pression into the face of his friend. " Prentice ?" he repeated, 
and stretching out his hand, he seized upon that of Doctor 
Crockley, which he shook with extraordinary ardour. " Send him 
as a 'prentice ! Upon my soul, Crockley, if you had laid down 
five hundred pounds upon the table, I should not have considered 
it as of one half as much worth as that one word 'prentice. Yes, 
by Jove ! he shall be a 'prentice. Oaf that I was for not thinking 
of it before ! You don't know half the good you have done me by 



118 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

that word. "lis but lately, my dear fellow, that you and I have 
come to understand one another thoroughly ; and I have never yet 
talked to you about one or two points particularly interesting to all 
our capitalists. I never mentioned to you, did I, the Deep Valley 
Mills, not far from Appledown Cross, in Derbyshire V 

" Never, Sir Matthew, as far as I can recollect," was the reply. 

" Well, then, I will tell you something about them now, that will 
make you perceive plainly enough what a capital good hit you have 
made in talking of apprenticeship for my young darling. Deep Valley 
Mill, Crockley, is the property of my excellent friend Elgood Sharpton. 
He is one of the men born to be the making of this country. A fine, 
manly, dauntless character, who would scorn to give up his notions 
before any act of parliament that ever was made. His idea is, 
Crockley, — and I should like to see the man who would venture to 
tell me that it was not a glorious one, — his idea is, that if we could get 
rid of our cursed Corn-laws, the whole of the British dominions would 
soon be turned into one noble collection of workshops. I wish you 
could hear him talk ; upon my soul, it's the finest thing I know. He 
says that if his system is carried out into full action, as I trust 
it will be one of these days, all the grass left in England will be the 
parks and paddocks of the capitalists. Sharpton will prove to you as 
clearly as that two and two make four, that the best thing for the 
country would be to scour it from end to end of those confounded 
idle drones, the landed gentry. They must go sooner or later, he says, 
if the corn-laws are done away with. Then down goes the price of 
bread, and down goes the operative's wages ; and what will stop us 
then, doctor ? Don't you see ? Isn't it plain as the nose on your face 
that when the agricultural interest is fairly drummed out of the field, 
the day's our own ? Who shall we have then spying after us to find 
Out how many hours a day we choose to make our hands work ? D'ye 
see, Crockley ? If we choose to work the vitals out of them, who shall 
say we shan't?" 

" I never heard a finer, clearer line of argument, in my life, Sir 
Matthew," replied the attentive listener. '« That man, that Elgood 
Sharpton, seems born for a legislator. But I question not that when 
you two get together you act like flint and steel upon one another. Is 
not that the case V 

" Pretty much I believe," replied Sir Matthew ; " and I promise 
you, Crockley, I give no bad proof of my confidence in your honour 
and friendship, by letting you into a few of our notions, for matters 
are by no means quite ripe for us to speak out, as yet. Our policy is, 
you must know, to give out that it is the operatives who are clamour- 
ing for the repeal of the corn-laws, whereas many among them, saucy 
rogues, are as deep as their betters, and know perfectly well, and be 
hanged to 'em, that our only reason for trying to make * down with 
the corn-laws, 7 the popular cry is, that we may whisper in their ears, 
' down with the wages ' afterwards. Ay, doctor, if we can but manage 
this England will become the paradise of manufacturers ! — the great 
workshop of the world ! When strangers climb our chalk cliffs to get 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 119 

a peep at us, they shall see, land at what point they will, the glowing 
fires that keep our engines going, illuminating the land from one extre- 
mity of the island to the other ! Then think how we shall suck in — 
that is we the capitalists, my man — think how we shall suck in gold, 
gold, gold, from all sides. The idea is perfectly magnificent ! The 
fat Flemings must give up all hopes of ever getting their finical flax 
to vie with our cotton again ! — Crockley," but here Sir Matthew paused 
for a moment, as if half doubtful whether he should go on. The 
confidential impulse within him, however, worked so strongly in favour 
of the friendly smiling physician, that all reserve gave way, and winking 
his eye at him with a truly comic expression, he proceeded — " Crock- 
ley, they don't understand spinning in Flanders : they don't know yet 
how many baby sinews must be dragged, and drawn out to mix as it 
were with the thread, before the work can be made to answer. No, 
no, we have fairly given Master Fleming the go by in his own trade, so 
for the future he must just be pleased to go on hand-digging, and 
sewing every inch of his dung-muxen, till it teems with corn for export- 
ation. That's what he's fit for; whereas science has put us rather in 
advance of all that, my good doctor. Our friends in Poland, too, 
shall plough away to the same tune, and Russia, from end to end, will 
become one huge granary at our service. Where will your aristocratic 
landholders be then, Crockley? Perhaps you can't tell? but I suspect 
lean. They'll just be in the factories, sir. Your manors and your 
preserves (we can get game enough from abroad), your manors and 
your preserves will be covered with factories, except just here and 
there, you know, where we capitalists may have taken a fancy to my 
Lord This-thing's grounds, or the Duke of T'other-thing's mansion, for 
our own residences. And this I maintain is just as it should be ; and 
the reason why, is plain. We have got before all the world in ma- 
chinery, and so all the world must be content to walk behind us. By 
Jove, if I had my way, Crockley, I'd turn France and the Rhine 
into a wine-cellar, Russia into a corn-bin, and America, glorious 
America, north, south, east, and west, into a cotton plantation. Then 
should we not flourish ? Then should we not bring down the rascals 
to work at our own prices, and be thankful too ? What's to stop us ? 
Trust me there is not a finer humbug going, than just making the 
country believe that the operatives are rampant for the repeal of the 
corn-laws." 

" It is a treat to hear you, Sir Matthew. I should be at a loss to 
name any man that I thought your equal in the gift of eloquence. But, 
nevertheless, we must not forget business. We must not forget 
Master Michael Armstrong, Sir Matthew. 

" No, no, my good friend, we will not forget him. Be patient for a 
moment, and I will make you understand how my friend Elgood 
Sharpton, and my darling protege have been mixed up in my mind 
together. Sharpton's factory at Deep Valley is one of the most 
perfect institutions, I take it, that the ingenuity of man ever produced. 
It is perfect, sir, — just perfect. In the first place it is built in a wild 
desolate spot, where the chances are about ten thousand to one against 



120 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

any of the travelling torments who take upon themselves to meddle 
and make about what does not concern them — it is a hundred thou- 
sand to one against their ever catching sight of it. You never saw 
such a place in your life, Crockley. Tis such a hole that I don't 
"believe the sunshine was ever known to get to the bottom of it. It 
was made on purpose, you may depend upon it. Well, sir, Sharpton, 
who whatever he undertakes is sure to get over the ground faster than 
any other man, for he never lets any thing stop him, Sharpton felt 
quite convinced, you see, that the only way to carry on the work to 
any good purpose was to undersell. And how was this to be done 
without loss instead of gain ? That's a question I promise you that 
has puzzled many a man that was no fool — but, egad, it did not 
puzzle him. He knew well enough that it was not the material — that 
came cheap enough — nor yet the machinery, though Heaven knows that's 
dear enough ; but 'tis the labour, sir, the damnation wages going on, 
on, on, for evermore that drains the money away. And what then 
does he do, but hit at once upon the very perfectest scheme that ever 
entered a man's head to lessen that ruinous burden. He knew well 
enough, for he has a most unaccountable deal of general information, 
that there were lots of parishes in England that didn't know what on 
earth to do with their pauper brats. There's many, you know, that 
say this one thing, this nasty filthy excess of pauper population is the 
very mischief that is eating up the country, and destroying our pro- 
sperity. But who's the greatest political economist, Crockley, the 
man who talks of the evil, or he who sets about finding a remedy ? 
The political economists of the nineteenth century ought to erect a 
statue to Elgood Sharpton ; and so they will, I have no doubt, when 
the subject comes to be more perfectly understood. For just mark 
what he has done. First he finds out this capital spot for the job, and 
builds a factory there ; next he either goes himself, or sends agents, 
good, capable, understanding men, to all the parishes that he finds are 
overburdened with poor. Then, sir, he enters philosophically into the 
subject with the parish authorities, but of course with proper dis- 
cretion, and proves to them that in no way could they do their duty 
by the parish children, particularly the orphans, or those whose 
parents don't trouble them, so well as by apprenticing them to a 
good trade/' 

Here Sir Matthew paused, and a merry glance was exchanged 
between him and his companion. 

" Well, Crockley, it is a good trade, you know, a devilish good 
trade, isn't it ? At any rate I promise you that so many parishes felt 
convinced of it, that Elgood Sharpton had soon got Deep Valley 
factory as full of young hands as it could cram. Now it is since that, 
you must know, that old Sir Robert took it into his head that little 
children must not be overworked. He it was, I believe, that first set 
up that nonsensical cry to any purpose ; and to be sure, nothing ever 
was so absurd in a country where every body knows that if the young 
pauper spawn could but be made to die off, every thing would go on 
well. Is it not strange now, that old Peel could not be contented to 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 121 

grow rich, and hold his tongue ? But no, he got bit by some poisonous 
humanity notion or other, and a devilish shake he gave to the system 
just at first, by his absurd bill for the protection of infant paupers ; but 
such men as Sharpton are not to be knocked down like ninepins, 
either by law-makers, or law; and to say the truth, old Sir Robert 
Peel's bill was to all intents and purposes a dead letter within 
two years after it was passed. Bless your soul, it was the easiest 
thing in the world to keep the creatures so ignorant about the bill, 
after the first talk was over, that they might have been made to believe 
any thing and to submit to any thing. In fact the question for them 
always lies in an egg-shell. They must either do what the masters 
would have them, or starve. That fact is worth all the bills that 
ever were passed : and another thing is, that as long as there's 
nothing to prevent our own friends and relations from being among 
the magistrates, even if complaints are made, we can manage them." 

" How true it is, Sir Matthew, that there is no inequality of acci- 
dental condition than can equal the inequality produced by a decided 
superiority in the intellectual powers," said Dr. Crockley. " At this 
moment I give you my sacred honour that I look upon you, and your 
friend Mr. Elgood Sharpton also, as standing in a much more com- 
manding position than any duke in the country. What's a long 
descent compared to a longhead, Sir Matthew? I'll tell you what 
the difference is. A long descent pretty generally helps a man to 
empty his purse, whereas a long head will never fail to help him fill 
it. It is as clear to me, as that the sun's in heaven, Sir Matthew, 
that the game is in your own hands. I know — for I have made some 
curious experiments that way — I know what a dog may be taught to 
do by hunger, and you may rely upon it that it is just as powerful in 
a man. Egad, Sir Matthew, it is a very fine subject for scientific 
experiments. It is difficult to say how far it might go. If a dog, for 
example, may be taught tricks by hunger, that approach in ingenuity 
to the powers of man, why may not man, skilfully acted upon by the 
same principle, be brought to rival the docility of a dog V 

" I see nothing in nature to stop it, doctor," replied Sir Matthew, 
with an air of great animation. " But remember, my dear Crockley, 
this is not a point to be touched upon in the book we were talking of. 
The public, you know, can have nothing on earth to do with the 
private regulation of our affairs. People have just as much right to 
inquire at what o'clock my lord duke expects his valet to get up, and 
moreover what the valet eats for breakfast when he is up, as they have 
to know what hours our hired labourers keep, and what they feed 
upon. It is a gross inquisitorial interference, Crockley, and ought 
not to be thought of in a free country." 

* That's a first-rate idea though, Sir Matthew," said the doctor, 
taking out his pocket-book and pencil. " I must book that. It is 
turning the parliament into an office of the inquisition. The canters 
may call it a holy office, if they will, but the British people will never 
bear the notion of an inquisition. That's a capital idea, I promise 



122 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

you. As to my parallel, you know, between a dog and a man, it is 
merely between ourselves, or such an out-and-out-friend as Mr. 
Sharpton, and it may be worth thinking about, perhaps, practically 
and scientifically, I mean ; but certainly I should never dream of 
printing it. A hundred years hence human intelligence may have 
reached such a point of improvement that the plain good sense and 
practical utility of the idea may make it properly appreciated. But as 
yet we are not sufficiently advanced in the science emphatically deno- 
minated " the positive" in contradistinction to " the ideal." It will 
come though, if we do but go on in the path we are in. But we are 
generalizing too much, Sir Matthew ; nevertheless I suspect I have 
caught your idea. You have thoughts of sending your young 
favourite to Deep Valley mill, by way of putting the finishing stroke to 
your benevolent projects in his favour?" 

" Exactly so, my dear friend. But we must have indentures, 
observe ; and there is some little difficulty in that." 

" I suppose you know best, Sir Matthew ; else I should say that 
indentures cannot be necessary. From your description, the locality 
of this factory, with its romantic name, must be like the valley of 
Rasselas, at least in one particular — namely, that without wings the 
happy dwellers there would find it impossible to escape," replied the 
doctor. 

" Difficult, exceedingly difficult, certainly; but not quite impos- 
sible ; for without indentures a runaway could not be legally pursued. 
And to tell you the truth, friend Crockley, I should not much approve 
giving a subject for a second part of Mr. Osmond Norval's drama, in 
which the hero should appear upon the scene after a few months' resi- 
dence in Deep Valley mills." 

1 'That's true. But I don't see under what pretence you are to 
get the brat apprenticed to your friend Sharpton," remarked the 
cautious counsellor. 

" If he is apprenticed to me, it will do just as well," replied the 
knight, " for I could make over the indentures to Sharpton easy 
enough, but it strikes me I might have some difficulty in making the 
mother consent to it." 

" Not if you will be upon your P's and Q's, Sir knight," said his 
friend : " you have nothing to do but go on sending tit-bits to the sick 
woman, and the rickety boy that you mentioned, and when they 
have got a little used to it she'll not choose to affront her generous 
benefactor. Remember the dog theory, Sir Matthew, thev are all 
alike." 

" I dare say you are right. But at any rate I had better keep out 
of that hateful brat's way, or rather take care that he keeps out of 
mine. But I shall bear the sight of him better if I make up my mind 
to send him to Deep Valley. That will wipe out old scores between 
us." 

Having said this, Sir Matthew rose from the breakfast-table, seem- 
ing thereby to indicate that the consultation was at an end. Dr. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 123 

Crockley rose too ; but, though he took up his hat and his riding- 
whip from the chair on which he had placed them, he lingered as if 
he had still something to say before he took his leave. 

Sir Matthew, however, seemed to take no notice of the hint, but 
stretching out his hand said decisively, " Good morning, doctor, good 
morning. Let us see you again soon." 

Dr. Crockley upon this stretched out his hand too, but instead of 
clutching that of the knight, he seized upon his button. " One word, 
Sir Matthew, one word. You are too much of a man of business to 
think me troublesome. Respecting that little appointment that you 
were talking about the other day ; I should like to have it settled. 
Because, to say the truth, I shall consider myself as wearing your 
livery ; or, to speak more fitly, to be fighting positively under your 
colours, when this is done ; and of course you know we ought to 
understand one another completely." 

" No doubt of it, Crockley. I said nothing that I do not mean to 
stand to. You shall have two hundred a year, paid quarterly, for 
attending to the health and wellbeing, and all that, you know, of the 
factory children. But as I don't want you to give them two hundred 
pounds' worth of physic, remember I shall expect that you will make 
up the deficiency in — in just saying round about the neighbourhood 
how remarkably well every thing goes on at Brookford Factory. I'll 
pledge you my word that every thing does go on capitally well there, 
Crockley, so you will have nothing on your conscience on that 
score." 

" I am not afraid of that, Sir Matthew; I know I may trust you. 
But I should like a bit of a memorandum about my own business, if 
you please." 

" Quite right, quite right, sir. I am too much a man of business 
to object to that. Draw up the engagement, such as you wish it to 
be, and I dare say I shall make no objection to signing it." 

After this a cordial hand-shaking was exchanged and the friends 
parted. 



CHAPTER XII. 

AN UNFORTUNATE RENCONTRE AN ADVENTURE MISS BROTHERTON 

GROWS WISER EVERY DAY. 

Mrs. Tremlett's inquiries proved successful. Jim Sykes, the 
weeding-boy, knew perfectly well where widow Armstrong lived ; and 
after he had repeated his instructions three times, Mary Brotherton 
and her unresisting chaperon set off on their expedition. On one 



124 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

point only did the self-willed heiress yield to the judgment of her com- 
panion. Mary, who knew, that though she seldom went beyond the 
shelter of her own park-paling, she often walked without fatigue 
■within it for two or three hours together, wished to set off for Hoxley- 
lane on foot ; but Mrs. Tremlett talked so much of the fatigue, that 
the good-natured girl consented to let the carriage convey them to the 
point at which the lane diverged from the high-road. This yielding, 
however, was wholly from consideration for her companion. For 
herself she believed the precaution quite needless ; and she was right. 
However much her temper might have been endangered by the series 
of spoiling processes she had undergone, her health had been taken 
good care of, and few girls of her age in any rank, had greater power 
and will for exertion than herself. 

- Nevertheless, before she had driven half a mile, she heartily rejoiced 
at having sacrificed her own inclination to that of her good nurse; for 
the road to Ashleigh was the favourite ride of the officers quartered in 
the neighbourhood, and had she been seen on foot, it is probable 
that before reaching Hoxley-lane she would have been surrounded by 
a body-guard of military. So greatly did this danger appal her 
spirits, that the first moment she found herself free from a white- 
gloved hand either at one window or the other, she stopped the car- 
riage, and ordered the coachman to go far enough down the lane 
to permit her to get out unobserved by any persons passing by the 
road. 

But poor Mary was this day doomed to disappointment ; and the 
indignant, and almost passionate beating of her heart under it, made 
her more conscious, perhaps, than she had ever been before, how deeply 
the business upon which she was engaged had entered into her soul. 

Soon after Sir Matthew Dowling had dismissed his breakfast com- 
panion, he strolled out towards his splendid stables, and perceiving 
his son loitering among the grooms, and himself equipped for the 
saddle, he inquired whither he was going to ride. " Only to Ashleigh, 
governor," was the reply. " Then wait five minutes, Augustus, and 
I will ride with you." 

Whether the youth approved the proposal or not, he was fain to 
submit to it, and the evil star of Mary Brotherton contrived to bring 
them to the top of Hoxley-lane at the moment her carriage was about 
to turn into it. 

" Stop!" cried the young lady, accompanying the word with a very 
energetic pull at the check-string. " Go on to Ashleigh," was the 
order that followed. 

" Was ever any thing so provoking, nurse? Do you see who those 
hateful men are V 

" Why 'tis Sir Matthew, my dear," replied the gentle old woman. 

"The wretch!" muttered Mary between her teeth at the very 
moment that Sir Matthew on one side, and his languishing son on the 
other, besieged her carriage. 

" Not for my right hand would I have him guess where I am going," 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 125 

thought she, as with a face suffused with the deepest carmine that 
agitation could produce, she forced her lips into an unmeaning smile 
in return to their salutation. 

The father and son came to exactly the same conclusion, and at the 
same moment. There was but one cause that it was possible to assign 
for her evident emotion. She was deeply in love with Augustus, — more 
deeply than even the young man himself had imagined. The thing 
was plain, no doubt remained, no not a shadow of it on the mind of 
either father or son, but it was the elder gentleman only who at once 
determined to push so fine a game to its close, with as little delay as 
possible. 

Feeling quite sure that there was no liberty he could take at this 
moment which would not be welcome, he made a sign to the coach- 
man to stop, and deliberately dismounting he threw his reins to his 
groom, told Miss Brotherton's footman to open the carriage-door, and 
stepped in with the assumed air of a partially loved friend, who knows 
that no leave need be asked. 

Mary shrunk back into her corner with considerably more disgust 
than if a reptile had possessed itself of the seat opposite. 

"This is not quite as it should be, is it?" said Sir Matthew, with 
a leer. " Perhaps some other may have a better right here than I V 1 
And a very expressive smile accompanied the words. 
" Sir ?" said Miss Brotherton. 

" Come, come, my dear child, you must not look vexed at any of 
my little jokes. You know how we all dote upon you ! Dear creature ! 
How beautiful that sweet blush makes you look ! He, he ! there goes 
poor Augustus looking very much as if he could wring his papa's neck 
off. But his turn, we will hope, may come by and by. And now, 
my dear, I'll tell you what I am come here for. We all want you, 
and your good Mrs. Tremlett too, if she likes it, to come over to us 
quite enfamille to-morrow. I don't know what love-powder you have 
been scattering amongst us, but there is not a single individual of the 
family who does not positively dote upon you. Tell me, my pretty 
Mary, do you feel a little kindness for some of us in return ?" 

An attempt to take her hand accompanied this speech ; and Mrs. 
Tremlett, who estimated pretty nearly her young lady's affection for 
Sir Matthew and his race, actually trembled for the consequences. 
But, to her great surprise, Mary answered, after the pause of a mi- 
nute, " Oh, dear Sir Matthew! you are only laughing at me!" in a 
voice so exceedingly childish and silly, that it might, under similar 
circumstances, have made the fortune of a comic actress ; and though 
she did not permit him to touch the hand he attempted to take, she 
placed it, together with its fellow, so playfully behind her, that Sir 
Matthew could only laugh and call her, " dear pretty creature!" 

Meanwhile the carriage proceeded to penetrate through the ^dirty 
dismal streets, which, in that direction, formed the suburb of Ash- 
leigh. 

" I must get out here," said Miss Brotherton, suddenly pulling the 
check-string. 



126 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

"Here? Impossible, my dear child !" 

" Nothing is impossible to me, that I choose to do, sir,' 1 said the 
young lady, springing to the ground the moment the door was opened. 
The knight was fain to follow, the animated Augustus threw himself 
from his horse at the same instant, and Mrs. Tremlettheld herself sus- 
pended on the step of the carriage to learn what she was required to do. 

" I wish to know what is the matter with these miserable-looking 
children," said Mary, approaching a half-open door, at each side of 
which, crouching on the stone step, sat a pale and squalid-looking 
girl. The eldest might be ten years old, the youngest was certainly 
not more than six. 

" Gracious Heaven ! you are not going to speak to those creatures, 
Miss Brotherton V* exclaimed Sir Matthew, while his son instinctively 
backed his horse into the middle of the street. 

" And why not, Sir Matthew?" said Mary. 

" You are not aware of what you are doing; I give you my honour 
you are not. You have no conception what these sort of creatures 
are. My dear, dear Miss Brotherton, get into your carriage — get 
into your carriage, I conjure you ! 

Mary looked at him, but said not a word in reply. 

" What ails you, my little girl ?" said she, putting her hand upon 
the shoulder of the youngest child. 

" Billy-roller," answered the little creature. 

" The billy-roller smashed her," said the eldest girl, «' but 'twas 
falling asleep against the machinery as lamed me." 

" Are you mad, Miss Brotherton !" exclaimed Sir Matthew. 
" Surely, Mrs. Tremlett, you ought to prevent your young lady from 
exposing herself to such scenes as these." 

" Good morning, Sir Matthew, do not let me detain you," said the 
heiress, suddenly assuming the tone and style of a woman of fashion 
who chose to have her own way. " These sick little creatures quite 
interest me. Besides, I must positively find out who Billy Roller is." 

" It is an instrument used in the works, Miss Brotherton. You 
know not to what you are exposing yourself — fraud, filth, infection, 
drunkenness ! I give you my sacred honour that I think you are very 
likely to be robbed and murdered if you approach the thresholds of 
such dwellings as these." 

" I beg your pardon, Sir Matthew," replied the heiress, " but you 
must excuse me if I obstinately persevere in judging for myself; I 
know I am a spoiled child, neither more nor less ; and as such you 
must either give me up or bear with me. Permit me to wish you 
good morning ; I shall do more than approach the threshold of this 
dwelling — I shall enter it." 

Having said this, she waited no further parley, but taking a ragged 
child in each hand set her little foot against the door which already 
stood ajar, pushed it open, and walked in. 

Her first idea on looking round her was that perhaps Sir Matthew 
was in the right. Filth she saw; infection might lurk under it ; and 




sj^QruH^^ 






yj£ ■._//;},>//■, 






I 






OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 127 

who could tell if fraud and drunkenness might not enter the moment 
after, to complete the group ? 

But there was little of selfishness and much of courage in the heart 
of Mary Brotherton, so she presently forgot every notion of personal 
danger, and was thus enabled to see things as they really were. 

On one side of the small bare chamber, and in some degree shel- 
tered by the door which opened against it, stood a rickety machine 
once intended for a bedstead. Two of the legs had given place, to 
brickbats, and instead of a bed the unsteady frame now supported 
only a thin layer of very dirty straw, with the body of a dying female 
stretched upon it. The only other article of furniture in the room was 
an old deal box without a cover, but having a couple of planks, each 
about three feet long, laid across it ; serving either for table or chairs 
as occasion might require. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the 
remnant of a window, were all alike begrimed with smoke and 
dirt. 

It took not long to make this inventory, and having completed it, 
the young lady, still holding in each hand a staring child, turned 
towards the inhabitant of this miserable den, and said, 

" Are you ill, my good woman V 

The being she addressed raised her heavy eyes, and in a voice so 
low as to be scarcely intelligible, answered " Yes." 

" Have you no assistance, nobody to nurse you V* 

" Nobody but these," pointing to the children. 

" Has any doctor seen her ?" demanded Mary of the eldest child. 

" No ma'am," replied the little girl. 

" And how long has she been ill V 

" Ever since she com'd from the mill." 

" And how long is that?" 

" A twelvemonth," said the little one. 

" I don't know," said the elder. 

" But, my poor children, you are not the only people that live with 
her, I suppose? Have you got any father?" 

" Yes." 

"Where is he?" 

" At the mill." 

" Have you got any body else belonging to you ?" said Miss Bro- 
therton, shuddering. 

'• There's Sophy, and Dick, and Grace," replied the eldest child. 

" Where are they all ?" again inquired Miss Brotherton. 

" At the mill," was again the answer. 

" Are Sophy and Grace grown up ?" 

" Sophy is," answered the child, " and Grace, almost." 

" Then why do they not stay at home, one of them at least, to take 
care of this poor woman ?" 

" 'Cause they mustn't. I 'tends mother." 

" You are not big enough to take care of her, my poor child. Why 
don't you go to the factory, and let one of the bigger ones stay at 
home ?" 



128 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" They won't have me now, 'cause of this."— And as she spake, the 
child held up a little shrivelled right-hand, three ringers of which 
had a joint deficient. " I can't piece now, and so they won't let me 
come." 

" And Sophy won't let me go, 'cause of this," said the little one, 
slipping her arm out of a bedgown (which was the only garment she 
had), and displaying the limb swollen and discoloured, from some 
violent contusion. 

" My poor little creature ! how did you do this ?" said Mary, 
tenderly, taking the little hand in hers, and examining the frightful 
bruise. 

" 'Twas the billy-roller," said the little 'girl, in an accent that 
seemed to insinuate that the young lady was more than commonly dull 
of apprehension. 

" But how did it happen, my child ? Did some part of the ma- 
chinery go over you ?" 

" No ! — That was me," cried the elder, with a loud voice, and 
again holding up her demolished fingers. " 'Twas the stretcher's 
billy-roller as smashed Becky." 

" 'Twas, cause I was sleepy," said the little one, beginning to cry, 
for she construed Mary's puzzled look into an expression of dis- 
pleasure. 

" They beats 'em dreadful ma'am," said the sick woman, evidently 
exerting herself beyond her strength. " She's a good little girl for 
work ; but they will fall asleep, all of 'em at times, when they be 
kept so dreadful long." 

"But these bruises could not be the effect of beating," said Mary, 
again examining the arm, " it is quite impossible." 

€t Why, ma'am, the billy-roller as they beats 'em with, is a stick big 
enough to kill with ; and many and many is the baby that has been 
crippled by it." 

There was something so hollow, so sunken in the woman's voice, 
that Miss Brotherton felt terrified. The fact that a child of the size 
of the baby before her should have been beaten with such a weapon, 
and with such violence, seemed wholly incredible. Again she thought 
of Sir Matthew Dowlin^'s warning:, and wished that she were not 
alone. 

" I am afraid that you are very ill," said she, " and I know not how 
I can help you. Money I can give, but there is nobody here to make 
use of it for you." 

" Money !" murmured the sinking woman from her layer of straw. 
" Money, you can give money ? Oh ! give it, give it. Give it to her — 
give it to the child ; she knows what it is, she knows I am dying for the 
want of it. It is too late for me, but give it, give it, and may God — " 

Here the miserable creature's strength wholly failed ; her eyes 
closed, and to all appearance, she was already a corpse. 

" Oh ! this is very dreadful !" cried poor Mary, wringing her hands, 
"nurse will know better than me," and so saying, she turned eagerly 
towards the door. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 129 

" She be gone, mother, and haven't gived nothing," said the eldest 
girl, in a voice so mournfully expressive of disappointment, that, spite 
of her alarm, Mary stopped to take half-a-crown from her purse, which 
she put into the child's hand. 

She looked at the coin, and in a half- whisper ejaculated, " Oh !" 
Then creeping to the bed, she put it into the palm of her mother's 
hand, pressing the fingers down upon it, and in an accent of inter- 
rogation uttered the word " Bread V 

This Mary heard, but not the answer to it, for she had quitted the 
scene before it was uttered. On opening the door of the house, she 
started at seeing Sir Matthew Dowling still within a dozen yards of it ; 
he was standing beside the carriage, with one arm extended to keep 
the door of it open, and the other resting against the vehicle on the 
opposite side of the opening, while his head thrust forward within an 
inch of good Mrs. Tremlett's nose effectually prevented ber following 
her young lady, however much she might have wished to do so. He 
had, indeed, upon Miss Brotherton's disappearance reseated the good 
woman almost by force, and then addressed her in such a strain as 
was '^rapidly working her up to make an attempt to escape from the 
other side of the carriage, when the reappearance of the young lady- 
released her from her thraldom. 

" Mrs. Tremlett I" he said, (( are you aware of the awful respon- 
sibility which will rest upon you if any thing unfortunate happens to 
your amiable, but most headstrong young lady ? All the neigh- 
bourhood know, Mrs. Tremlett, that she has, as it were, placed herself 
for protection in your hands, refusing all other counsel, and shutting 
her ears to all other advice, and it is thus that you perform your 
duty!" 

" Good God, sir! what do you mean?" said the good woman, in 
great agitation. " Let me out if you please, sir. If my young lady is 
in any danger, it is wicked to keep me sitting here. Let me out, 
sir !" 

" I will let you out, Mrs. Tremlett," replied the knight, still firmly 
retaining the position which so effectually kept her in, " I will let you 
out; but first, for her sake and your own, it is my duty to tell you in a 
few words the sort of place she has now thought proper to enter. 
Don't struggle, Mrs. Tremlett, but hear me. It is not possible they 
can do her any personal injury as long as I am so near the door of the 
house as at present. Be very sure that from some hole or corner of 
the filthy premises, some spying eyes are at this moment watching us. 
There is no danger of her being murdered now, but as sure as you sit 
there, Mrs. Tremlett, murdered she will be, if she goes without the 
protection of a powerful arm within such dens of sin and iniquity as 
she has entered now. One short moment more, Mrs. Tremlett — one 
short moment, while I tell what the creatures are among whom she has 
thrown herself. The house is notorious as one of the very worst in 
Ashleigh. The man is an habitual drunkard, whom I, and my ex- 
cellent servant Parsons, have endeavoured in every possible way to 
reform — but in vain. The moment he has got his wages, he goes to 

K 



130 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the gin-shop, and often and often he won't work at all, which of 
course prevents his family from being in the comfortable easy cir- 
cumstances which they ought to be. If he happens to be in the 
house now, I dare say there is no species of indecent language to 
which your young lady will not be obliged to listen. As to the 
mother of the family, I believe she is dying in consequence of a life 
passed in all sorts of the most abominable wickedness. Indeed I 
believe she is now half mad, for I have been told by some of my 
people whom I have sent upon charitable visits of inquiry to her, 
that she lies in her bed inventing the strangest lies imaginable. 
Indeed some think that notwithstanding she is so near death she still 
drinks, and that it is nothing but drunken lies that she makes people 
listen to." 

" Pray, pray let me get out, Sir Matthew ! Being murdered, sir, 
is not the only thing from which I should wish to save Miss Bro- 
therton." 

" One word more, Mrs. Tremlett, and I have done. The eldest girl 
is a notorious prostitute. Another, a year or two younger is going the 
same way. The boy is suspected of being an extremely skilful thief, 
and the two younger girls, for they all work at my factory, Mrs. 
Tremlett, and I know them well, the two younger ones are such de- 
praved little wretches, that for the sake of example we have been 
obliged to turn them out of the mill, though we are in great want 
of young hands to do the work. Now, madam, I have done, and I 
leave it with you to judge how far it will be right and proper for Miss 
Brotherton to continue such frolics as these." 

Sir Matthew was in the act of pronouncing the last words of this 
speech as Miss Brotherton opened the door of the house, and stepped 
out into the street. 

On first perceiving her, the knight appeared about to take her 
hand, for the purpose of replacing her in the carriage ; but his attention 
was called to the sound of many feet suddenly turning the corner 
of a street which led from a neighbouring factory. It proceeded 
from the workpeople, who were rushing home in scrambling haste 
to snatch their miserable dinners. 

Gentlemen in Sir Matthew Dowling's situation, and enjoying the 
species of influence which belongs to it, take little or no pains to 
avoid meeting the people they themselves employ. They look not 
in the young eyes to read what sort of blessing cowers there, nor 
heed the crippled gait, or pallid visage of those who exist but by the 
poisonous employment which he gives them. But such gentlemen 
seldom, if they can avoid it, expose themselves to the remarks of 
any gangs belonging to their neighbours, and no sooner did Sir 
Matthew become aware that the mill in the next street was pouring 
forth its fifteen hundred hands, than he turned from the young lady 
who had passed by without appearing to see him, and taking his 
horse from the hand of the groom who held it, sprung with great ac- 
tivity into the saddle, and galloped off the way his indignant son 
had galloped before him. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 131 

Mary Brotherton meanwhile was utterly unconscious of the ap- 
proaching throng ; and intent only upon getting Mrs. Tremlett out 
of the carriage, turned her eyes neither to the right nor the left, but 
seizing her by the arm, exclaimed, " Come to me nurse, come to 
me!" 

The good woman who was quite as desirous as herself of the re- 
union, required no second summons, but more quickly than it can 
be told, was first by the side of her young mistress in the street, and 
then entering w T ith her the low door of the dwelling so fearfully de- 
scribed by Sir Matthew. 

Had Mrs. Tremlett possessed the power, most assuredly she would 
have turned the steps of her charge the other way, and forever have 
prevented her from exposing herself to the contemplation of such 
depravity as she had heard described ; but knowing perfectly well 
that no such power was vested in her, the next wish she conceived, 
was to give all the assistance and support she could to the dear 
wilful girl to whom she had devoted herself. 

Aware, as she entered the door, that many eyes followed them, 
nay, that many steps were stayed, apparently, to watch the spectacle 
so rare in Ashleigh of well-dressed ladies entering the sordid dwelling 
of operatives, Mrs. Tremlett herself closed the door as soon as they 
had both passed through it, and looking round upon the desolation of 
the chamber, trembled with an emotion made up of terror and compas- 
sion, at perceiving to what a scene the delicately-nurtured Mary Bro- 
therton had introduced herself. 

" This woman is very ill, nurse Tremlett," said the young lady, 
drawing her close to the bed. " For God's sake tell me what we had 
better do for her V* 

" My dear, dear, Miss Mary come away, and send the doctor to 
her!" answered Mrs. Tremlett; positively shaking from head to foot, 
as she contemplated the ghastly countenance of the woman, the filthy 
rag that imperfectly covered her, and the scanty straw upon which 
her stiffening limbs were stretched. " This is no place for you, Miss 
Brotherton ! come with me I say this moment, and we will send the 
doctor, and money, and clothes too, if you like it." 

" If I like it ! — Do you think I am amusing myself, Mrs. Tremlett ? 
—-Feel her hand — feel her pulse ! I believe she is dying." 

These words though spoken very quietly and deliberately, were ut- 
tered in a voice so unlike what she had ever heard from the young 
lady before, that the old woman became dreadfully alarmed. 

" Oh,*good God ! she is losing her senses !" were the words she 
uttered as she threw her arms round the person of Miss Brotherton, 
and vainly attempted to remove her from the spot on which she stood. 
" Fie upon you, Mrs. Tremlett !" said Mary, sternly, " do you fancy 
that you are doing me any good ? Be satisfied that I am not losing 
my senses, and let me request that you will make an effort to recover 
yours. This woman's head is too low. My dear mother asked for 
pillows." Here the steady voice faltered, but it was now only for a 

k 2 



132 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

moment. " I want the cushions from the carriage nurse Tremlett, will 
you get them, or shall I V 

Without answering a word the terrified old woman hastened to obey 
her, and did so in the best manner ; for calling to the tall footman, 
who continued to stand beside the open door of the carriage, he 
obeyed the summons, which he supposed to be preparatory to his* 
young mistress making her exit, by very unceremoniously thrusting 
right and left the curious group that still lingered on the threshold. 

" Give me the cushions from the carriage, Jones," she said, " make 
haste, for God's sake !" 

The man stared at her for an instant in utter astonishment, and 
then did as he was ordered. 

" Now get upon the box and bid the coachman drive as fast as he 
can go, to the nearest doctor's — that's Mr. Thomas, I think, in Cannon- 
street. — Tell him Miss Brotherton has sent for him, and desire him to 
get into the carriage directly." 

Having uttered these commands as rapidly as she could speak, Mrs. 
Tremlett carried a couple of the carriage cushions to the bed, and with 
the assistance of Mary and the elder child, managed to raise the 
woman into a position apparently less distorted and painful than 
before. 

" Have you any thing to give her?" said Mrs. Tremlett, addressing 
the child. 

The little girl without answering, stepped to a sort of cupboard in 
the wall, and taking thence a pitcher without a spout, and a mug 
without a handle, contrived to tilt up the former so as to make it dis- 
charge a portion of its contents into the latter. 

" It is water," said Mary, watching the operation. " It will not 
hurt her, will it ?" 

" Nothing can hurt her, my dear love !" replied Mrs. Tremlett, 
her eyes filling with tears as she listened to the altered voice of her 
gay-hearted girl, whose smiles and frolics she had watched, and 
indulged, for so many years ; but of whose deep feeling she had 
never conceived any idea till now. " I don't think any thing can 
hurt her now, Mary. Her pulse flutters, and her forehead is quite 
damp. I have sent for Mr. Thomas, and he will probably be here 
immediately." 

Mary's only answer was silently pressing the hand of her old friend 
as she took from it the broken mug of water, and then, kneeling on 
the sordid floor, she applied it to the pale dry lips of the sufferer. 

The poor woman made an effort to meet it, and swallowed a mouth- 
ful eagerly ; and then, relieved probably by the change of posture, 
and refreshed by the cool liquid, she stretched out the hand in which 

she still held Mary's half-crown, and said, " Go Betsy, buy ". 

The child she addressed, eagerly seized the money in the hand 
that had fingers to close upon it, and flitted through the door in an 
instant. 

The poor woman had again closed her eyes ; but her breathing was 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 133 

more tranquil, and Mary hoped she had fallen asleep. With this 
persuasion she stood perfectly still and silent beside her, her own hand 
locked, though she was not conscious of it, in the grasp of her deeply 
affected nurse, while her whole soul seemed settled in her eyes as she 
fixed them immovably upon what she felt to be the most awful spec- 
tacle that a mortal can gaze upon, namely, the passing of a human 
* spirit from life to death. 

The little girl whose swollen and discoloured arm still remained un- 
covered, probably because she feared the pain likely to attend the 
replacing it in the sleeve, stood close beside her mother's head, child- 
ishly contemplating the cushions which supported it, and apparently 
as unconscious as they were, of the heavy loss that threatened her. 

But this stillness did not long remain uninterrupted. All the 
members of the family, who had been named as belonging to the fac- 
tory, except the father, returned for the purpose of taking such rest 
and refreshment as one hour (nearly half of which was consumed by 
the walk to and from the mill) could permit. The latch was lifted by 
the eldest girl, a delicate featured, but dreadfully dirty creature of 
about seventeen, with a sort of sharp eagerness, denoting the curiosity 
excited by the sight of the carriage stationed before their dwelling. 
On perceiving the deathlike countenance of her mother, made dis- 
tinctly visible by the noonday light, that streamed through the open 
door, she suddenly stopped, clasping her hands together, and uttering 
in tones that sounded like a shriek — " Oh ! God, she is dead !" 

"No! not dead !" said Mary solemnly, and without turningher 
eyes from the object on which they were rivetted. " Not dea d! — she 
is sleeping — Hush ! — Do not disturb her !" 

Close following on the heels of the first, came a second girl, about 
a year her junior, but with a countenance much less prepossessing. 
Dirty she was too, if possible more so than the others, and there was 
a look of stolid stupidity about her that, but for the sort of reckless au- 
dacity which lurked in her eye, might have given the idea of an almost 
brutal want of animation. A thin consumptive-looking lad of about 
fourteen, followed after her, and closed the door behind him as he 
entered. 

" Oh ! mother !" he exclaimed as her sunken face caught his eye, 
" I wish I was alongside of ye, and then we'd be buried together I" 
And without pppearing conscious of the presence of the strangers, he 
suddenly threw himself upon the tottering bedstead, and nestling his 
face close to that of the dying woman, kissed her passionately again 
and again. 

" My boy, you may hasten her going by that," said Mrs. Tremlett, 
gently. " Be still, be still all of ye !" But as she spoke, she, and 
Mary too, whose hand she continued to hold, made way for the eldest 
girl, who now eagerly, but silently pressing forward, dropped on her 
knees beside the bed, and throwing her two arms over the emaciated 
body, remained with streaming eyes that rested piteously on the face of 
her mother. The second girl looked on, till by degrees her heavy 
countenance appeared to stiffen into horror, and she too drew near, 



134 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

but with distended and tearless eyes, that seemed to speak more of 
fear than love. 

Mrs. Tremlett looked anxiously into the face of her charge. It was 
deadly pale, and wore an expression of solemnity so new and strange, 
that the good woman threw her arms around her in an agony of fond 
anxiety, exclaiming, " My Mary, my dear, dear child ! come away ! 
Mary, Mary, come away ! you can do no good. This scene is not a 
fit one for you to witness." 

" You mistake, nurse. It is fit for me. It is necessary for me. Do 
not disturb me, nurse Tremlett ! do not !" Then after a short pause, 
during which her eyes were closed, and her hands crossed upon her 
breast, she again whispered, " Could she not pray with me ? Shall I 
not ask her to pray with me V 

" My sweet girl, she will not hear you, I think," said the old woman, 
while the tears streamed down her cheeks. " But you shall be satis- 
fied my darling," and approaching the bed, and leaning over the girl 
who knelt beside it, Mrs. Tremlett in a low but distinct voice pro- 
nounced the words, " Shall we pray with you?" 

She was evidently heard and understood, for the hands that for some 
minutes had lain motionless, were with an effort brought together, and 
clasped in the attitude of prayer. Mary who was eagerly watching 
her every movement, suddenly stepped forward, and gliding in between 
the eldest and the youngest girl, dropped on her knees beside them. 
Mrs. Tremlett following close behind her, knelt also, and then with 
trembling lips, and faltering voice, but slowly, distinctly, and most 
reverentially, Mary Brotherton uttered the last and most impressive of 
those sentences in our litany which is followed by the solemn petition 
for deliverance. It was with a throb of pleasure at her heart, and an 
exclamation of thanksgiving from her tongue, that she heard the dying 
woman answer " Amen !" 

Almost at the very instant she did so, the latch was again lifted, 
and Mr. Thomas, one of the three medical practitioners of Ashleigh, 
entered. Miss Brotherton was not conscious of ever having seen him 
before ; but he, like every one else in the neighbourhood, perfectly well 
knew the heiress by sight ; and now, even now, in the awful chamber 
of death, bowed low before her. 

It would not be easy to describe the feeling with which she turned 
away from this ill-timed demonstration of respect. Yet it was with 
no harshness ; for the struggle so often going on within us between 
our better and our worser natures, was at this moment so decidedly in 
favour of all that was good in her young heart, that there was hardly 
place for any severer feeling than pity within it. 

She had risen from her knees as he made his bow, and turning 
gravely towards him, said, " If any thing can be done sir, for this poor 
woman, let it not be delayed. I fear she is very ill." 

" Certainly, ma'am — certainly, Miss Brotherton, my best attention 
may be depended on. But will you first, my dear young lady, give 
me leave to observe that I would much rather see you in your carriage 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 135 

than here. I really cannot answer for it. It is in point of fact im- 
possible to say whether there may not be something deleterious, some- 
thing noxious, in short, to your very precious health in the atmosphere 
of this room." 

" I thank you, sir. Be sure I will take quite sufficient care of myself; 
but it is not for me that your services are wanted — it is here!" 

Sophy, the eldest girl seemed unconscious of what was going on, 
for she remained perfectly motionless on the spot where she had first 
knelt down ; while the third sister, who had been sent on the poor 
mother's last errand for bread, and who had crept back unobserved into 
the room during the foregoing scene, occupied the space on her right 
hand, Mary Brotherton having knelt on her left, so that there was 
scarcely space for the approach of the smart apothecary. 

" Move, my dear girls !" said Mary, gently laying a hand on the 
shoulder of each. 

They both rose ; while Mr. Thomas, carefully storing the anecdote 
in aid of the gossiping part of his practice, looked and listened with 
astonishment to what seemed to him the very unnatural conduct of the 
rich young lady, and internally exclaimed, " A clear case of religious 
mania this, as I ever saw ! She won't live long, probably. What a 
match!" 

It required no very long examination of the poor patient, to discover 
that her last moment was rapidly approaching. 

" Upon my word, Miss Brotherton, I really wish I could persuade 
you to come away," persisted the medical gentleman as he once more 
turned towards her. The air is becoming more mephitic every instant. 
" This woman is at the last extremity." 

" Nothing, then, can be done for her?" said Mary. 

" No, ma'am — nothing in the world. Not the whole college, if they 
were present, could keep soul and body together for another hour, I 
would venture to say." 

• On this Miss Brotherton put a fee into his hand, and bent her head 
in token that his business there was ended, and that he might depart. 
But he did not immediately obey the hint, for pocketing the unwonted 
golden prize, he seemed anxious to remain a little longer where such 
blessings abounded, and returning to the bed, again took hold of the 
poor woman's hand, and then said in a voice of authority — " Let me 
have some water." 

It was Mary only who seemed to understand his words, and she 
immediately obeyed them, placing in his hand the broken mug which 
she had set aside upon the floor. The apothecary put the water to the 
lips of the poor woman, and she again swallowed a little of it, after 
which they saw her lips move as if she was making an effort to speak 
to them. 

Mrs. Tremlett lent over her, and then, with a stronger effort she 
articulated — « Let me see William !" 

" Who is William?" said Mrs. Tremlett raising herself, " Is it one 
of the children ?" 

" It be father," said Betsy. 



136 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Where is he to be found ?" cried Miss Brotherton, eagerly. "Let 
him be sought for instantly — where is he likely to be?" 

?' At the gin-shop," replied the ungracious Grace. 

" If you know where he is, go for him," said Mary, impressively, 
" and for God's sake let him not delay !" 

The girl she addressed stared at her as upon something utterly in- 
comprehensible : but she obeyed, and, in so short a time as to show 
that the gin-shop was at no great distance, returned with a man of an 
exterior as filthy as the rest of his race, wretchedly crippled in the 
legs, and a complexion that spoke both of ill health, and intemperance. 

" What ! — It is come to that, is it, already?" said the man looking 
wistfully at her from the bottom of the bed, but with a countenance 
whose lines seemed too fixed in the expression of hard indifference, to 
permit its exhibiting much feeling. 

" She asked for you, father," said Sophy gently, then taking one of 
her mother's hands in hers she murmured, " Mother! — Dear mother I 
— open your eyes upon us, father is here, and all of us," while large 
tear-drops fell upon the livid face as she hung over it. 

The dying eyes were once more opened, and consciousness, and 
recognition of them all, were visible as she suffered them to rest first - 
on one, and then on another. The boy only, from his position, she 
could not see ; but even then, there seemed intelligence between them, 
and she certainly knew he was lying beside her, for her head rested 
against his, and she raised her left hand till her fingers touched his 
cheek. The youngest child also when the mother's eyes opened, was 
too much behind her, but she seemed aware of her vicinity, and pro- 
nounced the words " Little one !" probably her usual appellation, so 
distinctly as to make the child start, and instantly climb upon the bed 
to kiss her. The last movement was an effort to return this kiss ; and 
the next moment Mrs. Tremlett removed the child's clinging lips from 
a corse. 

A very awful interval of perfect stillness followed. " Can I be of 
any further service to you, Miss Brotherton ?" from the lips of Mr. 
Thomas, were the first words that broke it. 

Poor Mary only shook her head, but Mrs. Tremlett replied, " No, 
thank you sir, nothing more ;" and with repeated bows, and rather a re- 
luctant step, he departed ; turning, however, to give another glance at 
the heiress, as he passed out, for he was not without hopes that she 
might fall down in a fainting-fit. Nothing, however, of the kind hap- 
pened, and he disappeared. 

" You will go now, Mary dear ?" whispered Mrs. Tremlett, " and I 
will come here to-morrow to inquire about them for you." 

" Yes, I will go now," replied the young lady, " I cannot comfort 
them." Then looking round upon the steadfast group, as if to dis- 
cover which of them appeared in the fittest state to be spoken to, she 
fixed upon the little Betsy, and placing a couple of sovereigns in her 
hand, told her to take care of them, and give them to her father 
presently, adding, " tell your sister Sophy to come up to my house. 
This," giving a card, " is the place where I live." 







-'/^v/ . ' ^/fV7/ ■^Wr/y/^'/ . /'//>/ ,y'/> 



/■///:/ //</,'// "■; 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 137 

She then led the way to her carriage, Mrs. Tremlett followed, and 
the next moment they were driving rapidly from the abode of the most 
abject misery, to a residence which every quarter of the globe had con- 
tributed to render luxurious. 

It was evident that the heiress felt no inclination to converse ; 
indeed, for by far the greater portion of the way her face was con- 
cealed by the handkerchief which she held to her eyes, and Mrs. 
Tremlett had too much real feeling to disturb her. After driving, 
however, through the handsome lodge-gates, and sweeping up to the 
noble entrance of her mansion, where already, at the sound of her 
approaching carriage, two or three servants were seen waiting like a 
guard of honour to receive her, it seemed that her meditations had 
not been wholly confined to the deathbed scene she had witnessed, 
and that the sordid cabin, with its misery-stamped inhabitants, had 
made a deep impression ; for the first, and for many hours the only 
words she uttered after her return, spoken to the ear of Mrs. Tremlett 
as they walked arm in arm together through the hall, were these : 

" I too am living by the profit of the factory house. Is the division 
just ?— Oh, God ! Is it holy?" 

The old woman felt that she trembled violently, but knew not what 
words to utter that might compose her. 

On arriving at the foot of the stairs, Mary withdrew her arm, and 
mounting them more rapidly than her companion could follow, reached 
her bedchamber alone, which she entered, closing and bolting the 
door after her. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

DISAGREEAELE MEDITATIONS A CONFIDENTIAL INTERVIEW WITH A 

FAITHFUL SERVANT ANOTHER INTERVIEW, NOT QUITE SO CONFI- 
DENTIAL WITH A DAUGHTER MARTHA AND MICHAEL TAKE A 

PLEASANT WALK TOGETHER TO VISIT THE WIDOW ARMSTRONG 

A CONSULTATION. 

It will be easily believed that Sir Matthew rode back to Dowling 
Lodge not in the very sweetest humour in the world. " Bring up a 
child in the way he should go," is an admirable proverb, and certain 
it is that when that " way" is agreeable, he does very rarely " depart 
from the same." Thus it happens that the young gentlemen and ladies, 
sons and daughters of the millocrats, who pile thousands upon thou- 
sands, and acres upon acres, by the secret mysteries of their wonderful 
compound of human and divine machinery, do rarely or never take their 
way into the dwellings that shelter and that hide the sufferings of their 
operatives. Nothing is so distasteful to a truly elegant mill-owner as 



138 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

any allusion, domestic or foreign, gossiping or professional, religious 
or political, to his factory, or his factory people ; and the gay fatherly 
phrase, " Don't talk of that, for God's sake, my dear ! — it smells of the 
shop," has turned away many innocent eyes from contemplating that, 
which had they looked upon it, could hardly have endured so long. 

To know therefore that the wilful, whimsical, rich, and independent 
Mary Brotherton (while still too young to understand any thing what- 
ever of the real nature of trade, and our glorious manufactures), — to 
know that she was beginning to thrust herself behind the scenes, and 
do Heaven knows what mischief among his devilish people, instead of 
minding her own business, and falling in love with his adorable son, 
was altogether too much to be borne with patience ; and had it not been 
that the weather was so hot as to make him long for a draught of hock 
and iced water, a natural instinct would have made him turn aside 
from his park-gates, and pursue the by path which led to his factory, 
where, as he knew by experience, the sort of temper he was then in 
could find great relief, without any body but the overlookers being 
in the secret. 

As it was, however, Sir Matthew Dowling reached his home ; and 
the first thing he heard from the man who threw wide its portals 
was, that Mr. Parsons was waiting for him in his study. 

" Bring me a biscuit, a bottle of Stein, and some iced watex,-" said 
the knight in the accent of one not born to "enter the venerable 
presence of hunger, thirst, and cold," nor into that of heat or vexation 
either. 

"What's the matter now, Parsons ?" said he, throwing himself into 
a delicious arm-chair, and perceiving by one glance at the sour visage 
before him, that something or other had gone wrong. " The mill's 
not burnt down I suppose, is it V 

" And I'm not sure that would be the worst thing that could 
happen Sir Matthew, if it was," replied the confidential servant. " It 
is well insured you know, sir, and would bring in a famous sum, 
as sure as the bank, and that's more, I take it, than we can say of all 
our debts." 

" Who the devil has been gossiping with you about the debts? 
What business is that of yours, I should like to know ? Mind your 
billy-rollers Mr. Parsons, and take care your hands keep up with your 
machinery, that's your work ; — and I can tell you, if you don't know 
it already, that the success of the concern depends more upon that, 
than upon any other thing whatever. The building is paid for, and the 
glorious machinery is paid for — mind that, sir, and where's the interest 
of it to come from if you let the hands go to sleep over it ? I tell you 
what, Mr. Parsons, an overlooker is not worth his salt if he does not 
continually keep it in his head, that the more the machinery is improved 
the faster must the brats move to follow it. And you may rely upon 
it that where this is remembered early and late, day hours and night 
hours, the concern will answer, and every manager of it, master or 
man, will live well. But, by the Lord Harry ! where it is not, they are 
as sure to go the wrong side of the post, as you are to go to bed to- 



CD 

m 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 139 

night. It stands to reason, Parsons. If one man knows how to 
drive, and another doesn't, the one man's team will pay, and the 
other's won't ; and I will be much obliged to any man who will tell 
me how I am to help being undersold in the market, if I don't contrive 
to make my machinery go as fast, and as long too, as the best of 'em. 
That's the business you are to attend to, Mr. Parsons, and I won't 
trouble you about any other." 

" All true, Sir Matthew, every word of it. And I can't but say, 
though I scorn to be a boaster, — I can't but say, that I think 1 have 
given you reason to trust me. I am noted for being able to keep the 
children awake, and going longer than any other man in the mill. 
There isn't an . overlooker in Ashleigh that can equal me with the 
strap or the billy-roller either, when I chooses to make 'em tell." 

" I know all that, my good fellow, and I value your services accord- 
ingly. But I have been devilishly put out this morning, and that 
makes me snappish ; besides, I am quite sure you have got something 
disagreeable to tell, by your face. So out with it, man, and make an 
end of it." s 

" Make an end of it, Sir Matthew?" replied Parsons, repeating the 
last words of the sentence with marked emphasis, " by the Lord, sir, 
that is exactly what I'm come to beg you to do. You must make an 
end of your charity job, Sir Matthew, for it don't answer in any way : 
we have lost one of the nimblest set of fingers we had, that wanted 
nothing but the strap to keep 'em going for sixteen hours out of the 
four-and-twenty, and I wish you could just hear what gratitude you 
have gained in return for it. There is not a single day comes round 
that the rickety little Armstrong don't blubber over his work like a 
church spout. And I overheard him, the young villain, when he didn't 

ink I was so near — I overheard him when the scavenger-girl, as was 
Cleaning under the mules, looked up and asked, why for he cried, 
when his brother had g#t such good fortune — I heard him answer. 
And what do you think he said, Sir Matthew ?" 

" How the devil should I know V replied the chafed capitalist. 
" Don't stand mumming there, but out with it." 

" Neither more nor less than this, Sir Matthew : ' Don't talk of his 
good fortune, Bet,' says he, ' he's the most unhappiest boy in all the 
world,' says he." 

" Pestilent little vermin I" exclaimed Sir Matthew through his 
closed teeth. " Infernal fool that I was to listen to that idiot woman ! — 
and Crockley too, who ought to know better, has been badgering 
me exactly with the same execrable nonsense. Never again as long as 
I live will I be persuaded to try any other scheme with the people 
than what we have always acted upon. Brutes and beasts they are, 
and like brutes and beasts they should be treated ; — and so they shall 
by me, as long as my head's above ground." 

" Well, sir, I can't but say I am glad you are come back to your 
right mind, as one may call it. Such romantical goings on can never 
answer in a factory, Sir Matthew. It an't the way to do business, and 
business is what we have got to do. And so, sir, I hope you will send 



140 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



that scamp Mike back to the mill to-morrow morning, for they can't say- 
no worse of it, let us pay him off as we will, than that he's the most 
unhappiest boy in all the world. And that's what they says already." 

"It won't do, Parsons. That boy must be got rid of. — What do 
you stare for, you ass ? Do you think I am going to get hanged for 
him ?" 

" Oh ! dear no, Sir Matthew — you know the value of your own 
life better than that, any how, — God forbid you should not. Only I 
did not overwell understand what you meant by getting rid of him." 

•' I must contrive to send him out of the way, at least out of this 
neighbourhood ; and moreover with his own consent and his mother's 
too. That is what I meant, Mr. Parsons." 

" You must know best, Sir Matthew. But it seems to me you are 
taking a deal of trouble about him. If you'll just let me have him 
back in the mill, I think I'll venture to say that he shall never get 
within reach of plaguing you any more — and I'd get a pennyworth 
out of him into the bargain." 

" For a tolerably sharp fellow, Parsons, you're devilish dull about this 
business. Can't you guess that I should not be taking all the trouble 
you talk of, about such a beggar's brat as that, unless I had reasons for 
it. There's that lord's daughter that got me into the scrape, won't she be 
ferreting and ferreting till she finds out that the sweet little master has not 
found himself comfortable here ? And ten times worse than her, — 
ay, a hundred fold, is that obstinate headstrong girl of old Brotherton's. 
My Lady Clarissa might be troublesome from mere folly, and might 
perhaps be stopped short in any mischief she was doing, by a few words 
from me. But not the old one himself could stop Mary Brotherton 
if she got a whim in her head. You should have seen her just 
now, Mr. Parsons, raving at me with her colour up and her eyes 
flashing, for all the world as if she had just escaped out of Bedlam, 
only because I cautioned her against going irrto Joe Drake's pigsty, — a 
pretty place wasn't it for a girl of her fortune to go visiting? But in she 
went, by heaven ! and you may rely upon it, if such a girl as that, who 
cares for nothing, and nobody, once gets it into her head to go about 
among the factory people, she'llj kick up more dust than we shall 
find it easy to lay again. I've been told already by one who I suspect 
wanted to put me on my guard, that this Mary Brotherton wished 
to have a little talk with Michael Armstrong. I can put two and two 
together as well as Miss Mary. She was at our cursed play last night, 
and I'll bet my life to a rotten egg that she wants to ask him what he 
cried for." 

" Likely enough, sir," replied the overlooker with a grim smile. 
"I heard of the crying, I won't say that I didn't. You may guess, 
Sir Matthew that it was a good deal talked about among the servants 
— and then t'other of 'em blubbering away at the mill, must give a 
pretty notion, mustn't it, sir, of your goodness to 'em?" 

" Say no more about it, it makes me mad !" exclaimed the knight. 
*' One or both of 'em shall be sent to Deep Valley mill, Parsons, if I 
die for it !" 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 141 

" There's none but 'prentices taken in at the mill in the deep hollow, 
Sir Matthew, if you mean that." 

" Yes, sir, I do mean that," replied Sir Matthew with a very 
ominous frown, " and there Master Michael Armstrong shall go, 'pren- 
tice or no 'prentice, or I'll give him up my place, and take his." 

" That's all, then Sir Matthew," said the overlooker, preparing to 
depart. " I cotn'd to put you up to the boys ingratitude, and have 
nothing further to say at present." 

" You need not trouble yourself any more about that, Mr. Parsons. 
I will take care of him," replied the knight. Whereupon Mr. Parsons 
made a bow, and departed. 

Sir Matthew Dowling had already taken one tumbler of hock-and- 
water. He now took a second, and then throwing himself back in his 
arm-chair, indulged for several minutes in very deep meditation. At 
the end of that time it seemed as if the good Rhine wine had done its 
office, for suddenly the knight's countenance became animated ; the 
heavy gloom which had rested upon it disappeared, and springing to 
his feet he rang the bell with a sort of lively jerk which showed he had 
some project in hand that he greatly relished. 

It was the lively Peggy who answered the summons ; but though she 
entered almost out of breath from the eagerness with which she had 
traversed the passage which led from the kitchen to the study, and 
though she brought into immediate activity all the agaceries of which 
she was capable, a smiling nod was all she got in return, so eager did 
Sir Matthew appear to say, " Go to Miss Martha, Peggy, as fast as you 
can, and tell her to come here to me this very minute. Go, my dear, 
and make haste, there's a good girl." 

Peggy was disappointed and angry, for she had a great deal to tell 
Sir Matthew about Michael Armstrong's ungratefulness, and all that 
the servants thought and said about it; but the command she had 
received was too peremptory to be trifled with, and though she very 
nearly slammed the study door in shutting it, she failed not to deliver 
her message, which was instantly obeyed with the most dutiful alacrity 
by Martha. 

" Did you send Peggy for me, papa ?" said she in entering. 

"Yes, Martha dear, I did. How are you to-day, my dear girl? 
I have not seen' you before this morning. Sit down, love, sit down; 
I want to talk to you, Martha, I have got something upon my mind 
that vexes me, and I am going to open my heart to you about it." 

" Oh, my dear, dear papa 1" returned Martha, " I should be so glad 
if I could be of any use to you !" 

" You can, Martha — you can be of great use and comfort to me. 
In the first place you must be my father confessor, and let me confess 
my faults to you, and I hope you will give me absolution if you can ; 
for I really am very uncomfortable." 

" What can you mean, papa V 

11 Why, my dear, I mean that I have been foolish enough to put my- 
self in a great pet, when I ought not to have done any such thing. It 
is always wrong to let temper get the better of one ; but in this case it 



142 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

was particularly so. You know the fuss that has been made about 
this little fellow that I have taken out of the factory — I do assure you, 
my dear girl, that I really intended to be a very kind friend to him. 
But I got so provoked at his crying upon the stage last night in that 
beautiful speech that was written for him, that I cuffed him soundly 
for it when he came off — and I am sadly afraid that I frightened the 
poor little fellow so violently that he will never feel comfortable, and 
at his ease with me again. You cannot think how this vexes me." 

" Oh ! my dear papa, he will never remember it any more if you 
will please to forgive him." And Martha's heart bounded with joy 
as she spoke, to think how completely Miss Brotherton's opinion would 
be changed could she but hear her father speak thus amiably of what 
had passed. 

" No, Martha, no ; I cannot bear to see his frightened look. And 
besides, my dear, I shall never be sure of myself — you know how hasty 
I am ! — I should live in perpetual terror lest any thing should tempt 
me to give him a cuff. There are other reasons too, my dear Martha, 
which induce me to think that I should be doing the little fellow and 
his family infinitely more service if I apprenticed him to some good 
trade, than he could ever gain by running about Dowling Lodge." 

The excellent good sense of this observation struck Martha as very 
valuable, and she uttered the most cordial approbation of the wisdom 
and goodness from whence it proceeded. 

" I am exceedingly glad you agree with me, my dear child," pro- 
ceeded Sir Matthew, " for I have an idea that you could be very useful 
in making the arrangement. Do you happen to know where the little 
boy's mother lives, my dear Martha?" 

" No, papa — but Michael could show me." 

" Then you should have no objection to pay her a visit on this busi- 
ness, my dear ?" 

" Oh ! dear no ! I should like it so much !" 

" Very well, my love — then you shall set out immediately if you 
will. Or stay — it would perhaps be better to get you the paper first 
that they will have to sign, ^ou must remember to tell them, Martha, 
that I shall undertake to pay all the fees. It certainly is an excellent 
thing for a poor family like Armstrong's, to have a boy 'prenticed to a 
good trade. I trust the mother will not refuse her consent from any 
selfish notion, that she may lose the boy's help thereby, it would be 
really very wicked. You may tell her, my dear, that I shall continue 
to send her down nice and nourishing food, and that little Michael 
shall be taught to write, and well instructed every way ; so she may 
be quite easy about him, and he will be sure to send her a letter every 
now and then." The knight concluded with a smile of kindness, that 
perfectly enchanted his daughter. " Oh ! my dear, dear papa !" she 
said, " how few people there are who know you as well as I do ! Let 
me go and look for Michael now, papa, shall I ? I should like to go 
down to his mother with him at once, and tell her of your great good- 
ness. The papers could be sent afterwards, you know." 

" Very well, dear, trot away then ; — get your bonnet and parasol, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 143 

find your little squire, and then come back here to me to receive my 
last instructions." 

As soon as the happy-looking Martha had left the room the bell was 
again rung, and on this occasion answered by a footman, — the lively 
Peggy choosing to turn herself another way as soon as she heard it. 

" Is Parsons gone V 9 demanded Sir Matthew of the servant. 

" No, Sir Matthew, he is in the servants' hall," was the reply. 

" Desire him to step here directly." 

Though the overlooker was enjoying some very comfortable refresh- 
ment, he promptly obeyed the summons, and as soon as he had again 
entered the study, and shut the door behind him, his master said, " Do 
you know, Parsons, whether the woman Armstrong can read V* 

" Yes, sir, I know she can — and that's one reason why she is so 
outdacious about the workhouse and every thing. There's nothing 
on earth does so much mischief among the mill people as making scho- 
lards of 'em," said the man. 

" I know that well enough, who doesn't? But you may go now* I 
only wanted to ask you that one question," replied the master. 

Once more alone, the knight again took to meditation. Profound 
as was the state of ignorance respecting all things beyond their own 
wretched dwellings in which the operatives at that time were kept, Sir 
Matthew had some misgivings as to the possibility that the name and* 
fame of Deep Valley mill, might have reached even Hoxley-lane. If 
it had, the sending to a woman who could read, indentures by which 
her child should become bound to that establishment till the age of 
twenty-one, was running a risk of more opposition than he wished to 
encounter. But he had a ready wit, and seldom remained long at a 
loss how to manage any business on which his mind had fixed itself. 
When Martha returned, therefore, he was quite ready with his last in- 
structions. 

" Have you found the little boy, my dear ?" said he mildly. 

" Yes, papa, he is waiting for me in the hall. Foolish little fellow ! 
I believe he fears that you are very angry with him, and he looked so 
much alarmed that I would not bring him in." 

" Poor child ! But you were quite right, my dear Martha. It is better 
not to harass him in any way. Now then, Martha, what you have got 
to do is this : Explain to the poor woman that it is my wish to keep my 
promise of providing for her boy ; but that I am come to the persua- 
sion that the apprenticing him to some respectable business will be 
better than letting him run about the place here learning nothing. 
You may talk to the little boy, you know ; he is a sharp child, and I 
have no doubt will come to the same conclusion himself, if you state 
the thing to him properly." 

" I have no doubt of it, papa," answered the innocent Martha; 
" I will do my very best to make him understand it. And what trade 
shall I tell Mrs. Armstrong you have chosen for him?" 

"■' Stocking weaving, my dear, I really don't know a better ; and we 
may be able to help him in that if he behaves well as he goes on." 

" Well then, papa, now I may go ?" 



144 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Yes, my dear, now you may go — and you may just tell the woman, 
Martha, that if she approves the plan, I will call upon her myself 

some day with the papers. A pleasant walk to you ! Good bye." 

# * * * * 

It was a very pleasant walk, for Martha was delighted with her 
companion. She opened to him kindly and clearly the plan for his 
being put apprentice to a respectable trade, and pointed out to his young 
but quick capacity the advantage this would give him in after life, 
and the power he might hope to possess, if he behaved well, of pro- 
viding for his mother and brother. 

" Tis that what I should like best of all things," said Michael. 
" Because, please ma'am, I know I must help 'em, as they beant 
neither of 'em so strong as I be." 

" You are a good boy, Michael, for thinking of them so much as you 
do. That is the reason I take notice of you, and love you." 

The little fellow nestled closer to her side, as they walked on, and 
raising the hand that held his, he laid it upon his shoulder, and pressed 
his cheek upon it with very endearing fondness. 

" What an. affectionate little heart it is !" thought Martha, " and 
how very happy I shall be if I can help to get this business settled for 
him !" 

Of course Miss Martha Dowling had never been in Hoxley-lane 
before; and notwithstanding her having so agreeable a companion, 
she speedily became aware that the region was as unpleasant as it was 
new. 

" Is this the only road, my dear boy, by which we can get to your 
mother's house V said she, almost 'mechanically enveloping her 
offended nose, in her pocket-handkerchief. 

" It is here that we lives, please ma'am," said the child, pulling her 
onwards. 

" How very foolish of me !" thought Martha, withdrawing her 
handkerchief, " of course poor people live in poor houses. But I 
cannot think why the place should smell so !" 

No 12 was however soon reached, and the young lady carefully led 
by her little attendant through the largest gap in the hedge to the 
outer door of the back kitchen, in order that she might escape Mrs. 
Sykes's crowded front one. 

" Go in first, Michael, and tell your mother that I am coming," 
said the considerate Martha. The child did so, but in this case there 
was no means for preparation, and having named the unexpected 
visitant and given his mother a hasty kiss, he returned before Martha 
had recovered the sort of shock which the dirty and desolate spot on 
which she stood had occasioned. 

In truth no person unaccustomed to approach the dwellings of the 
operatives in the towns of the manufacturing districts, can failjto be 
startled at the first near sight of them. In the very poorest agricul- 
tural village, the cottages which shelter its labourers have the pure 
untainted air of heaven to blow around their humble roofs ; but where 
forests of tall bare chimneys, belching eternal clouds of smoke rear 
their unsightly shafts towards the sky, in lieu of verdant air-refreshing 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 145 

trees, the black tint of the loathsome factory seems to rest upon every 
object near it. The walls are black, the fences are black, the win- 
dow-panes (when there are any) are all veiled in black. No domestic 
animal that pertinaciously exists within their tainted purlieus, but 
wears the same dark hue ; and perhaps there is no condition of 
human life so significantly surrounded by types of its own wretched- 
ness as this. 

Martha Dowling shuddered as she looked around her ; and when 
Michael returned to lead her in, she felt half afraid of crossing the 
gloomy threshold. 

But the widow Armstrong was, as usual, less dirty in her abject 
misery than, perhaps, any other inhabitant of Hoxley-lane, or its im- 
mediate neighbourhood, and the mild countenance and gentle voice 
with which she replied to the young lady's salutation removed all her 
scruples, and she seated herself in the chair placed for her by Michael, 
with the best disposition in the world to improve the acquaintance. 

" I hope you are getting better, Mrs. Armstrong?" said Martha, in 
that tone of genuine female softness which it is so impossible to mis- 
take, " and that you don't miss little Michael as much as you did at 
first." 

" You are very kind, ma'am, to take the trouble of coming to such 
a place as this," replied the poor woman, in a voice that indicated 
something like surprise. Upon which Michael, who had stationed 
himself near enough to enable him to slip his little hand into hers, 
said, with a tolerably expressive emphasis — " This is Miss Martha, 
mother." 

" I wish, ma'am, I had strength and power to thank you as I ought, 
for all your condescending kindness to my poor boy !" said the widow, 
earnestly. " I never see him, that he has not some fresh story to tell 
me of your goodness to him. He can read a chapter in the Bible now 
as well as any boy of his age need to do. And oh ! Miss — This is 
all owing to you — for never could he have given his time to it in the 
factory." 

" There is more praise due to him than to me, Mrs. Armstrong, I 
assure you. He is a very good boy at learning, and minds every 
word that is said to him. I suppose he has shown you his copy-book 
too, hasn't he? I never saw a child that had so good a notion of 
writing." ^ 

" He was always a quick boy, Miss — but never can he be thankful 
enough to you for teaching him how to put his quickness to profit. It 
will be the making of him." 

"lam very glad to hear you speak so earnestly about his learning, 
because that makes me think that you will be pleased at hearing the 
business I am come upon. My papa, who is very" — here poor Martha 
stopped short. She was going to add — " kind to little Michael," 
but her honest heart would not let her pronounce the words ; so she 
changed the phrase, and went on with " very desirous of being really 
useful to Michael, has commissioned me, Mrs. Armstrong, to ask you 
if you do not think it would be more profitable and advantageous to 

L 



146 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

him to be apprenticed to some good trade, the stocking-weaving for 
instance, than to run about our house any longer? Papa says, he fears 
it will give him habits of idleness which he may be the worse for all 
his life — and that would be quite contrary to his wishes, which have 
always been that he should benefit all his life long, by his good beha- 
viour about the cow." 

Mrs. Armstrong's eyes which had been fixed on the countenance of 
Martha, every line of which spoke of truth and sincerity, fell upon the 
work she held in her hand as these words were uttered — and for a 
moment she made no answer. But feeling, perhaps, that this was 
both ungrateful and ungracious to her visiter, she looked up again and 
said, " I am sure, ma'am, we can never thank you enough for all your 
kindness." 

There was the slightest emphasis in the world upon the word " you" 
but it was enough to heighten the colour of Martha, and for a moment 
she both felt and looked displeased. 

" My power, of myself, to befriend your boy, Mrs. Armstrong, is 
very little, I assure you," she said. " Of course it is natural that I 
should take more notice^ of him than a person like my father can, who 
has so many other things to attend to ; but it is to his generosity and 
benevolence that you must look for any lasting advantage you may 
hope to gain for him." 

" Indeed, ma'am, I would be happy to take your advice in the dis- 
posal of him any way ; for I can't mistake your kindness, or your 
power to judge what is best, which of course must be greater than 
mine, notwithstanding your young age — and if Michael likes it, and 
you think it best, ma'am." 

Martha saw that the mother's fear of having her boy parted from her, 
was combating the wiser hope for his future advantage ; and fully con- 
scious that the continuing his present mode of life could only be produc- 
tive of mortification, she boldly answered this appeal, and in the confiding 
innocence of her heart ventured to say, "Perhaps, in this case, girl as I am, 
my judgment way be better than yours, Mrs. Armstrong. I do not think 
it would be good or pleasant for Michael in any way, to continue living 
at the Lodge as he does at present; and I do think, that if put to a 
respectable trade, he may not only provide for himself, but be a help 
and comfort to you and his brother likewise. This is my opinion, cer- 
tainly, and now ask his. He is still younger than me, to be sure, poor 
little fellow, and yet I think you ought to listen to his opinion." 

" Well, Mike dear," said the widow, turning her head towards the 
child, " you hear what the young lady says ; speak up, my dear, and 
tell us what you think about it." 

" I be ready to go, mother, if she bids me, and you like it," replied 
the boy. 

" You can judge, ma'am, that he knows his duty. That is just like 
him. From the time he was able to speak, dear creature, it was always 
the same — gentle, good, and reasonable. I won't say but what the 
parting with him will be a sore trial to me, but God forbid that I should 
set the wishes of my worn-out life against the hopes of his young one. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 147 

How far away is it Miss, do you happen to know where the master 
stocking- weaver bides, as he's to go to ?" 

Martha confessed her ignorance on this point; but added, that 
though she should be sorry to hear it was too far off for him occasion- 
ally to come home and pay her a visit, she should be more sorry still, 
were he to be placed in the town of Ashleigh. " It would be only 
putting him for ever in the way of temptation, Mrs. Armstrong," said 
she ; " and I am sure you are too sensible a woman, to wish that he 
should be where the doing his duty was likely to be a pain to him." 

" Indeed, and that I would," said the poor woman, earnestly. 
" Tis the seeing their poor young faces for ever so sad and care-worn, 
that is the worst trial of all." 

" How true is what my dear father says about the factory people," 
thought Martha — " how wonderfully they do all hate work !" 

This conviction of their epidemic idleness, however, in no degree 
chilled the good girl's desire at once to perform her father's will, and 
benefit a very interesting, though not, as she believed, a very indus- 
trious mother and son. So deeming it best to enter into no further 
discussion, but to accept the consent uttered by both as final and 
conclusive, she rose, and smiling good-humouredly at Michael said, 

" Now you have taught me the way here, I think I shall be able to 
get back again by myself; and I dare say Michael, that you and your 
mother will like to have a little conversation together about this new 
plan for you. But remember, dear, that you are home by five o'clock 
to read your lesson and show me your copy-book, we were interrupted 
this morning you know." Then leaving in the poor widow's hand a 
welcome token of her visit, and promising that she would either bring 
or send the papers necessary for her to sign, before long, the excellent 
Martha Dowling departed, after having most innocently, but most 
effectually, lent her aid to the perpetration of as hateful a crime, as 
the black heart of long-hardened depravity could devise. 

Having waited till the figure of the young lady had passed across 
the little window, the widow Armstrong pulled her boy towards her, 
and gave him a mother's kiss. 

"To be sure thee dost look all the better, my Mike, for good 
food, and fine clothing. But I shan't be satisfied, unless you tell me 
that you like all these new favours that they are going to confer upon 
you." 

" I like to go, mother, very much," replied Michael, stoutly. 

" Thank God ! then, my darling — you are provided for," she re- 
joined with a deep sigh. " I have known a many stocking-weavers, 
Mike, exceeding well to do, and there was never one of them, I'll 
answer for it, that had a better will to work, and to do his duty, than 
you have — so I have no right to doubt but what you will do well, and 
I don't doubt it. But 'tis the parting with thee, my dear, dear child ! — 
Oh ! Mike, you have been a comfort to me ever since you was born— - 
and how do I know, if — " 

" Mother !" cried the boy, interrupting her, " I'll be a comfort to 
you still. I'll tell you what I've got in my head to do, and just see 

i2 



148 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

if it is not a good plan. I mean to be the very best boy that ever my 
master had, and when I've gone on working with him a bit, two or three 
months, perhaps, mother, — time enough for him really to find out that 
I am a good boy, — I will tell him all about you and Teddy, and make 
him understand that if he wants to keep me in good heart to work, he 
must let me trudge away home to pass a Sunday now and then with 
you two. I don't think he'll be able to say no, mother, when I tell 
him about Teddy's poor legs, and all you have done for us both, lying 
a-bed here." 

Mrs. Armstrong again kissed her boy, and after gazing at him with 
a look in which pride and pleasure were strangely blended with an- 
guish, she said, " I do think you'll make your way, Michael — for 
you are a good boy, a very good boy. But I don't know how poor 
Edward will take it." 

" That's the worst part of it, mother," replied the little fellow, be- 
ginning to cry. '* Poor Teddy does look so very happy of a night 
when he sees me pop round the corner upon him, as he comes out of 
the factory ! — But then I shall be able to help him, mother, all the 
better by and by. And when I come home of a Sunday, mother, I 
must teach him to write, and then think how beautiful to have a letter 
from one another ! I know who'll give me a slate for Teddy, and me 
too, to learn with, and that's Miss Martha. And I shan't mind asking 
her, not the least, because she knows I am going away. And do you 
know, mother, I've got another notion, and that's no bad comfort 
neither. I should not a bit wonder, if Miss Martha was to turn out a 
right good friend to you and Teddy, when I am gone." 

And so the little fellow ran on — each hopeful word he uttered be- 
getting a new hope, till, by the time the hour of departure arrived, his 
poor mother had at least the comfort of believing that the prospect 
opening before him, was one that he looked upon with much less of 
pain than pleasure. 

Meanwhile Martha found her way safely home, and gave her father 
such an account of the result of her mission, as induced him to give 
her a kiss, and declare that if she was not the handsomest of the 
family, she was out-and-out the most useful. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



MARY BROTHERTON CONTINUES SICK IN HEART AND MIND BUT 

IS ROUSED AND CHEERED BY HER OWN STEADFAST WILL- — AN o'ER 
TRUE TALE. 

It was not till the second dinner-bell had rung, that Mrs. Tremlett 
ventured to seek Mary in her chamber. 

The worthy woman was perfectly aware that the naturally strong 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 149 

feelings of her young mistress had been violently affected by the scene 
they had witnessed, and though far perhaps from comprehending the 
effect it had produced on her mind, she was conscious that she should 
do no good by obtruding herself uncalled-for upon her retirement. 

But when the signal that always brought them together had passed 
unheeded, she became uneasy, and availing herself of the privilege 
that long and well-requited affection gave, she knocked at her door 
and called upon her name. 

Miss Brotherton answered the summons immediately ; but her with- 
drawing the bolt of her door, as well as the unchanged appearance of her 
dress, showed that she had not been occupied in preparing for dinner. 

<l You are not aware how late it is, my dear child. The second 
dinner-bell has rung !" said Mrs. Tremlett looking anxiously in her pale 
face. 

" Has it ?" replied the young lady ; " indeed, I beg your pardon — 
but I will not keep you waiting, I will not dress to-day if you will ex- 
cuse it." 

" No, no, my dear, that won't do. Never mind about the dinner 
I will tell them to take it out again." 

" Indeed I do not wish to dress," said Mary languidly. " Morgan 
will tease me by asking what dress I choose to wear and fifty questions 
besides. Let me go down as I am, nurse Tremlett." 

" You shan't have Morgan at all dear. The dressing will refresh 
you my darling child ; and it won't be the first time Mary, that I have 
done all that you wanted in that way. There — just sit down on the 
sofa for one minute, and I will speak about the dinner, and be back 
again." 

It was very passively that Mary did as she was bid, and without 
another word of remonstrance sat down and awaited the return of her 
old friend. She was indeed completely exhausted, the scene she had 
witnessed had not touched only, it had wrung her heart ; and the 
hours she had passed since, were not such as to bring her spirits back 
to their ordinary tone. It was not alone, the melancholy spectacle of 
a fellow-creature passing from life to death, which had thus strongly 
affected her — it was the frightful degradation of the group of human 
beings who had gazed upon it with her. It was the horrible recollec- 
tion of the dying woman's statement respecting the lacerated flesh of 
her child — and it was the filth, the misery, the famine, and the vice 
that she had been warned of, and had seen, which had set her power- 
ful, healthy, unprejudiced, and unselfish mind, to meditate upon the 
state of things which had produced it. 

It was hardly possible for any one to be more profoundly ignorant 
upon the subject which had thus seized upon her heart, than was 
Mary Brotherton. On the question of negro slavery she had from 
her very earliest infancy heard a great deal, for her father was an anti- 
(black)-slavery man, who subscribed to the African society, and the 
missionary fund ; drank Mr. Wilberforce's health after dinner when- 
ever he had company at his table ; and while his own mills daily sent 
millions of groans to be registered in heaven from joyless young hearts 



150 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and aching infant limbs, he rarely failed to despatch with nearly equal 
regularity (all booked for the same region) a plentiful portion of 
benevolent lamentations over the sable sons of Africa, all uttered com- 
fortably from a soft arm-chair, while digestion was gently going on, 
and his well-fed person in a state of the most perfect enjoyment. On 
the slavery question therefore Mary really knew a great deal, and felt 
concerning it as every true Christian must feel. But as to every thing 
concerning the nature of the labour performed in the factories by 
whose chimneys her pleasant park was surrounded — the age, sex, or 
condition, of the labourers — the proportion of their daily existence 
devoted to toil — the degree of care bestowed on their immortal souls 
—or the quantum of enjoyment permitted to them by their earthly 
masters, while awaiting a summons to the presence of their heavenly 
one — of all this Mary Brotherton was as ignorant as the sleek lap- 
dog that dozed upon her hearth-rug. But this carefully-adjusted 
cloud was now passing away from her intellect for ever. If 

" Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise," 

that folly had seized upon her ; for no longer was she destined to taste 
the doubtful joy of luxury that had never looked upon the seamy side 
of existence, or dreamed that the means that supplied its exquisite, 
yet almost unnoted refinements, were earned by the agony of labour- 
ing infants. But though this, worse than fools paradise, was thus 
closed upon her for ever, she felt a power and energy of purpose 
awaked within her heart, that she thanked God upon her bended knees 
for giving, though she trembled as she received it. And never did 
sainted nun breathe purer or more earnest vows of self-devotion to 
heaven, than did this ardent-spirited girl to the examination, and, if 
possible, to the relief of the misery she had at length learned to know 
existed round her. 

But like most other persons when occupied by a really profound 
emotion, Mary felt no inclination to talk about it. She had not indeed 
the slightest intention to conceal any thing she did from Mrs. Tremlett, 
but on the contrary hoped eventually to gain much assistance from her 
strong practical good sense ; but she could not discuss, she could not 
reason, she could not prate about it now, and she went through the busi- 
ness of the dinner-table so tranquilly, that her watchful companion 
felt rejoiced, though a little surprised, at her recovered composure. 

Soon after they retired from table, Mary proposed a walk in the 
grounds, and as they wandered together through the richly-scented 
flower-garden, and then seated themselves where the cool breeze of 
evening brought the tempered fragrance to their senses more delight- 
fully still, the feverish feeling of tightness across her forehead, seemed 
to relax, and as if to apologise for the silent fit that had seized her, 
Mary looked kindly into the face of her old friend, and then bent 
forward and kissed her. 

" Bless you, my dear love ! you feel better now, don't you V said 
the affectionate old woman. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 1 51 

'« Yes, dear nurse — much better. The air is delicious to-night/* 
" It was too much for you, my dear child, that dreadful scene this 
morning ! My dear Miss Brotherton you must be reasonable, indeed 
you must, or instead of making me the very happiest being in the 
world as you do now, my life will become one of continual terror and 
alarm. You can do no good, my dear, in putting yourself in such places 
as we were in to-day." 

Mary reflected for a moment before she answered her, and then said, 
" Are you quite sure, nurse Tremlett that a young woman without any 
natural ties whatever, and with a fortune so large as mine, can do no 
good by making themselves acquainted with the condition of their 
poor neighbours?" 

" Oh ! no, Miss Mary dear, I never said that. You do a great deal 
of good by putting the gardener's, and under-gardener's children to 
school ; and by all the help you give them and every body else that 
works about the place, and I dearly love to see you do it, and I have 
no doubt in the world, that it keeps many from sending their children 
to the mills, and it will bring a blessing upon your head, my dear. 
But that's nothing to do with poking yourself into such a place as you 
got into to-day. You never heard any thing so dreadful as what Sir 
Matthew Dowling was telling me about them, before you came out the 
first time." 

Mary shuddered, as she heard his name. 

" You will promise me dear, won't you, never to go to such a horrid 
place again," resumed the old woman. 

" We will not talk about that now, my dear Mrs. Tremlett, I want 
you to tell me what you think I could do that would be most useful 
for those poor young girls. I know what it is to lose a mother, dear 
nurse, and it makes me feel for them." 

" God bless your kind heart, my dear ! That is just like you, and 
I wish with all my heart and soul, that you lived somewhere among the 
farming people, for there you would have some reward for your charity. 
But God help me ! If one half of v/hat Sir Matthew told me is true, 
these horrid girls are worse than it is decent to tell you, and the father's 
as bad." 

" But don't you think my good friend, considering that I am more 
than come to years of discretion, and that you are a good deal older 
still, don't you think it might be as well for us, in a case of such im- 
portance as this, to see and judge for ourselves, instead of taking Sir 
Matthew Dowling's word for it V said the heiress, while a slight frown 
contracted her brow. 

" Why yes, Miss Mary — only it is so difficult to come at the truth," 
replied Mrs. Tremlett. 

" Surely there is one truth that it is easy enough to come at — I sup- 
pose you have no doubt upon your mind that these people are in 
dreadful distress?" 

«« Wicked people almost always are, Miss Mary." 

" Then it is my duty Mrs. Tremlett," replied Mary almost sternly, 
r to endeavour, at least in the case of such very young people, to 



152 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

amend, or prevent their wickedness. It would be a frightful sin — 
worse in me, burdened as I feel myself with riches earned by the 
labour of such miserable little creatures as those whom we saw to-day 
— if I should look upon such utter destitution, let it be mixed up with 
what frailty it may, and pass along on the other side. I will not do 
it, Mrs. Tremlett, so never ask it more. At present all I know is, that 
I have seen misery. Its cause I have yet to learn — This may be the 
work of time, and I do not mean to wait till I have acquired such 
knowledge before I relieve the want and woe I have witnessed. I left 
word that the eldest girl was to come up to me. She will hardly delay 
doing so, poor creature, therefore I "must again postpone my intended 
visit to Hoxley-lane, for I will not go out to-morrow till I have seen her.'* 
All this was very contrary to Mrs. Tremlett's judgment, for she had a 
very natural dread lest the warm heart of her young charge, should be 
imposed upon by the designing and depraved. Nevertheless there was 
a feeling of respect that came upon her involuntarily, and as it were un- 
awares, as she listened to the firmly-spoken purpose of the young girl 
whom as yet she could hardly persuade herself was more than a child. 
In pursuance of the resolution thus declared, Miss Brotherton did 
not stir from home during the whole of the following day. Lady 
Clarissa Shrimpton, Mrs. Gabberly, and one or tw T o more distant 
neighbours called, but she was denied to them all, from the fear that 
her anticipated interview with Sophy Drake, might be interrupted. 
But the precaution was unnecessary ; the long morning wore away 
without the girl's making her appearance, and it was not till past eight 
o'clock in the evening, that a servant entered the drawing-room, and 
informed Miss Brotherton that a very dirty girl and two little children 
were at the gate, who said she had given them orders to call. 

" It is very true," replied the young lady. " These are the people 
I told you to let in." The man retired in silence, but paid himself 
for his forbearance by the vehemence of his wondering commentary in 
the servants' hall. 

Mary Brotherton was sitting at an open window, with the last light 
of evening falling upon her and the volume she held in her hand. 

She had been making what proved but an idle effort to read, even 
when that light was stronger; but now, the volume hung listlessly 
from her hand, while her eyes, fixed on the brightly tinted vapours in 
the west, seemed to look athwart them, and like the worthy gentleman 
on the platform before Tilbury Fort, to gaze on many things, that 
were " not yet in sight" Mrs. Tremlett, with the happy indifference 
to the increasing twilight peculiar to the sisterhood of knitters, con- 
tinued at another window to manoeuvre her bright weapons, and vary 
the successive fronts of her phalanx with no louder note of command, 
than was occasionally produced by the gentle clicking of her needles 
against each other. It was nearly an hour since a word had been 
exchanged between them, but now as the footman left the room, Mary 
turned towards her, and said — " This is poor Sophy, Mrs. Tremlett. 
Come and sit near me, will you ? I want you to hear all she says." 
Her old friend moved her place accordingly, and had just seated 




^3 j)^W All^ 



J //■////. //•/; '/Ay ■",<//'/ .///,■___ ////// //,/ 






/, ' // 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 153 

herself by the side of Miss Brotherton when the door again opened, 
and Sophy Drake, leading a little sister in each hand, entered the 
drawing-room. 

It required no force of contrast to render the miserable, squalid, 
unhealthy appearance of these poor girls most painfully striking ; if it 
had, the elegant apartment into which they now entered would have 
furnished it. Mary's heart smote her as she gazed upon them. " So 
young — so pretty too!" thought she, " and yet so painful to look 
upon!" 

The eldest of the three looked languid, weary, spirit-broken, and 
inanimate, hardly throwing a glance at the novel objects around her, 
and looking more fit to lie down and rest the aching limbs she slowly 
dragged along, than to indulge any feeling of curiosity. The little 
ones had the same unsteady tired gait, but they looked up with an 
expression of wonder, and almost of awe, on every object as they passed 
along." 

" How are you all, my poor girls?" said Mary kindly, as they drew 
near to her. The eldest girl dropped a courtesy but made no audible 
reply. 

" It is so sad and hopeless a grief to lose a mother," continued Miss 
Brotherton, " that I can say not one word to check your grief. But 
if there is any thing that I can do to make you more comfortable, I 
shall be glad to do it. You seem all of you greatly in want of 
clothes. How comes that, when so many of the family work, and get 
wages V 

"The wages isn't enough to buy us bread, ma'am," replied the 
eldest girl, and help pay lodging rent. 

This statement seemed so very incredible, that Mary felt a painful 
conviction that the young creature before her was not speaking truth. 
She remained silent for a minute or two, and then said, " I suppose 
when you say bread, you mean food of all kinds? — and tea, and sugar, 
and butter, and so on?" said Mary. 

" I have not had the. taste of meat in my mouth for above these two 
years," replied Sophy colouring, and in a voice that seemed to indi- 
cate something like indignation — " and as to sugar in our tea, or butter 
on our bread, no factory child is brought up to it." 

Mary coloured too. She longed to get accurate information re- 
specting their manner of living, and the reasons why incessant labour 
failed to supply the necessaries of life ; but she knew not well how to 
set about it. 

" Do not be angry with me, Sophy," said she, " if I ask questions 
that seem unfeeling and very ignorant. I really know little or nothing 
about the manner in which poor people live, and I want to know. Not 
merely from curiosity, but because I should like to help them if I 
could." 

" And God knows we want help bad enough, ma'am," replied the 
girl, while tears started to her eyes. " Father has got the money you 
gave yesterday, and we shall never hear any more of that." 

" Is he a bad father to you then ?" 



154 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Not bad to beat us. But he drinks terrible." 

" Then I suppose his wages go partly in that?" 

" His wages, and our'n too, ma'am. He baint always able to 
get work. The old hands are often out, and then in course he takes 
our'n." 

" Then if he was a temperate, steady man, you would do a great 
deal better?" 

" In course we should, ma'am. But mother said he took to it, as 
most of the others do in all the mills, on account of hating to come 
home so, when we young ones comes in from work. I have heard mother 
say that father cried when I, that was the biggest, com'd home first 
beaten and bruised with the strap and the billy-roller." 

" What is the billy-roller, Sophy," inquired Miss Brotherton, in an 
accent denoting considerable curiosity. 

" It's a long stout stick, ma'am, that's used often and often to beat 
the little ones employed in the mills when their strength fails — when 
they fall asleep, or stand still for a minute." 

" Do you mean, that the children work till they are so tired as to 
fall asleep standing?" 

" Yes, ma'am. Dozens and dozens of 'em every day in the year 
except Sundays, is strapped, and kicked, and banged by the billy- 
roller, because they falls asleep." 

" But, surely, parents are greatly to blame, to let children young 
enough for that, go to work at all ?" 

" They must just starve, ma'am, if they didn't," replied the girl. 

" How many years have you worked in the factory yourself, 
Sophy?" 

" Just twelve, ma'am, this last spring." 

" And how old are you ?" 

" Seventeen, ma'am." 

" Twelve from seventeen ? — You mean to say that you began to 
work at the factory when you were five years old?" said Mary, with 
some appearance of incredulity. 

" I was five years and three months, ma'am," answered the girl 
firmly. 

Miss Brotherton looked at Mrs. Tremlett, but perceived no appear- 
ance of incredulity on her countenance. " Is this possible, Mrs. 
Tremlett?" said she. 

" Yes, my dear, I believe that it is very common," replied the old 
woman. " I have often heard it spoken of among the servants." 

" Have you ever been at school, Sophy?" 

" Yes, ma'am. Afore father changed his mill and took work under 
Sir Matthew we all — father, mother, Grace, Dick, and all, worked for 
the great Quaker gentleman, Joseph Tell, and he had a school in the 
factory for Sundays." 

" And you learnt to read there of course?" 

" No, ma'am, I didn't;" replied the girl, shaking her head. 

" Whose fault was that, my dear ? — Surely if you were put to school, 
you ought to have learnt to read !" 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 155 

" I couldn't, ma'am, I couldn't — and it was not my fault neither," 
replied the girl with considerable agitation. 

" We was often and often kept going till twelve o'clock on a Satur- 
day night, and when the Sunday corned we couldn't sit down upon 
the bench, neither Grace, nor Dick, nor I, without falling dead asleep. 
'Twas the only right good sleep we had, that before Sundays I mean, 
'cause father was always obligated to wake us every other morning 
afore five o'clock, summer and winter, and earlier than that too, when 
we worked night- work. So keeping our eyes open Sundays wasn't 
possible, 'cause they didn't strap us." 

" Then there is not one of you can read ?" 

" No, ma'am, not one." 

" Can your father read?" 

" Yes, ma'am, he can. That is he could, he says, when he was 
younger, but he has almost forgot now. He says, in his young days, 
the machinery improvements was nothing like what they be now, and 
that the piecer children hadn't not half so far or so fast to walk as 
they have now, and he learnt to read of his own mother when he 
corned home at nights." 

" And why doesn't he do the same for his children, as his mother 
did for him?" said Miss Brotherton. 

" Because we couldn't keep our eyes open for two minutes together 
when we comes home at night. I have seen poor mother, as is dead 
and gone, lay little Becky here, down upon the bundle of straw that 
she and I sleeps upon, 'cause she couldn't keep up to eat her supper 
when she corned frOm the mill — and I have seen her put the sopped 
bread in her mouth when she was so dead asleep, that she couldn't 
get her to swallow it — and how could she or the rest of us learn to 
read, ma'am?" 

Mary made no reply, but sat for a moment or two, with her eyes 
fixed on the ground, in very painful uncertainty as to what she could 
say or do, that could be of effectual service to the miserable group 
before her. She felt, that though poor Sophy might perhaps be telling 
nothing but the truth in this dismal description of her wretched family, 
it was not from her that any general information could be obtained. 
It was, as she thought, utterly impossible that it could apply to the 
hundreds of thousands whom she had heard it stated, as a matter of 
national pride, by some of her rich neighbours, were employed in the 
factories of England and Scotland. A moment's thought sufficed to 
convince her (as it has done multitudes of amiable-minded ladies and 
gentlemen besides), that it was perfectly impossible such horrors could 
exist on the glorious soil of Britain, unless indeed, as in the case before 
her, the unhappy drunkenness of the father plunged his helpless family 
into a degree of poverty, which nothing, perhaps, but the unnatural 
degree of labour described by this poor motherless girl, could avert. 

" I must clothe them all," thought she, " and put the little ones to 
school. Perhaps, too, I may find a place in my own kitchen for poor 
Sophy. But as to learning from her any thing that can be depended 



156 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

upon respecting the system by which the factory labour is regulated, 
that is quite hopeless." 

She felt, however, that the weary-looking group ought not to return 
empty-handed after their walk, with no reward for it but her promises ; 
and turning to Mrs. Tremlett, asked her in a half whisper what she 
could give them, that might be made immediately useful in the way of 
clothing; their garments being in a condition that it was painful to 
her to behold. 

" You might give them that piece of dark cotton, my dear, that you 
bought the other day for the coachman's children. There is no great 
hurry you know about them, for they are not to go to school till next 
month." 

" Very true. — It is just the thing," replied Mary; and having rung 
the bell and ordered her maid to appear, she gave orders to have it 
brought to her. 

" I do not exactly know how much there is of it, Sophy," said she, 
putting it into her hand, " but enough, I think, for one or two of you, 
and I will get more of the same sort when next I go to Ashleigh." 

Sophy took it with a courtesy ; but having held it for a moment 
said, " Please, ma'am, this won't be no use to me, unless I may pawn 
part to get the rest made." 

" Can you not make a gown for yourself and your sisters, my good 
girl?" demanded Mary. 

" Please, ma'am, I never was learnt to sew," replied the girl, 
blushing. 

More convinced than ever, that her first effort to assist the poor 
operatives, had led her by an unlucky chance into a family, whose' 
unthrifty habits made it almost hopeless to attempt doing them any 
essential service, Mary drew forth her purse, and giving half-a-crown 
to each of them, took the useless material back, saying, " I will send 
you some more decent clothes to wear, Sophy — and then we must 
think what further can be done for you and these poo; little ones. 
But, indeed, my dear girl, I greatly fear that unless your habits are 
improved, and that you can be taught to use your needle like all other 
decent young women, in making and mending what is given you, it 
will be impossible for me, or for any one to do you much good." 

Poor Sophy Drake looked both sorry and ashamed as she listened to 
this reproof, — but she attempted not to answer it, and again courtesy- 
ing as she received the money, she turned away without again speak- 
ing, and left the room. 

" This is very, very dreadful ! nurse Tremlett," said Mary, as soon 
as they were alone. " I could not have believed that it was possible 
in such a country as England, to find human beings in a state of such 
degraded ignorance as that poor girl. Did you ever meet with any 
thing like it before?" 

" I can't say, Miss Mary, that I ever before came within reach of 
hearing a factory-girl speak so much as I have heard to-day. But I can't 
pretend to say that I am a bit surprised. I told you, my dear, from 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 157 

the beginning, that you would only get yourself into trouble, and do 
no good. From the very first of my coming to this country, which 
was but a month before I came to live with your mamma, I always heard 
the same history of the factory folks. And you know, my dear, what 
every body says, must be true." 

Mary, as she listened to this, looked harassed, puzzled, and 
wretched. " But is it not something unheard of in the history of the 
world," said she, " that thousands and hundreds of thousands of 
persons should exist, all labouring, young and old, with unceasing 
industry to support themselves, and that this their painful labour 
should subject them to such habits of inevitable ignorance and de- 
gradation, that all decent and respectable persons must be taught to 
shun them?" 

" It does seem very hard upon them, my dear, to be sure," replied 
her companion ; " but as to why it is so, I am sure it is impossible for 
us to guess. It must be partly their own faults of course ; but at any 
rate, my dear, I wish you would not go on, working yourself up so. 
I can't bear to see you, Miss Mary, looking vexed and miserable for 
what you can't help the least bit in the world. And besides, my dear, 
I must say, that it is nowise right for a young lady like you to run 
the risk of getting near very bad people indeed, whose ways I don't 
like to talk to you about. I know you can't abide Sir Matthew 
Douling, and I can't say I ever saw br heard of much to like in him ; 
but for all that, there is not any good that I can see in disbelieving 
what he told us about these very people. He must know more about 
them than we can, and it was quite shocking I do assure you, Miss 
Mary, the things he told me. A great deal too bad to repeat, I 
promise you." 

Mary burst into tears. " I am very unhappy, Mrs. Tremlett," said 
she, " and it is not putting faith in Sir Matthew Dowling that can 
make me less so. That I may be led to do many things from my great 
ignorance, which were I better informed I should not do, is very likely; 
and it is therefore my duty to obtain information upon this tremendous 
subject as speedily as possible. Would to God, my good friend, that 
you could give it me ! but as you cannot, we will cease to speculate 
together upon what we neither of us understand. I am sorry that our 
awful adventure yesterday, prevented my purposed visit to the poor 
woman in Hoxley-lane. We both agreed, you know, that I could get 
no harm there ; and I have an object in view in making that visit that 
I am sorry to have delayed. We will go there to-morrow, nurse 
Tremlett, — and so early in the morning, as to run no risk of meeting any 
of the fine folks who love to show themselves on the Ashleigh road." 

Mary Brotherton did go early the following morning to. Hoxley-lane. 
But her visit was too late, by exactly twenty-four hours. 



158 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XV. 

A TETE-A-TETE WALK LIVELY IF NOT INSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATION 

THE RICH VISITING THE POOR MISPLACED CONFIDENCE INNO- 
CENT SIN. 

The fashionable and luxurious Sir Matthew Bowling was not usually 
an early riser, but on the morning of the day which followed Martha's 
visit to Hoxley-lane, he almost outdid the lark. His attorney having 
been sent for from Ashleigh with all speed within an hour after he had 
received his daughter's report, all things regarding the procuring in- 
dentures had been made easy, and he found himself when he waked in 
the morning, in every sense ready for action. 

Great, and very awful is the power of wealth in a bad man's hands ; 
for scarcely is there any barrier which the law can raise for the protec- 
tion of those who have it not, sufficiently strong to save them at all 
times and seasons, from the aggressions of those who have it. How 
Mr. Cantabury, the attorney of Sir Matthew Dowling, contrived to 
to get his part of the business executed so speedily, it would be dif- 
ficult to say ; but certain it is, that considerably before the knight's 
usual hour of breakfast on the following morning this active friend 
and agent, arrived at the lodge with documents, which only wanted 
the signature of the parties concerned, to render them of sufficient 
power to bind little Michael during the next eleven years of his life 
as apprentice to Mr. Elgood Sharpton, for the purpose of learning the 
business of a stocking-weaver. 

The name of Deep Valley, by which Mr. Elgood Sharpton's factory 
was universally known, was not mentioned, but instead of this he was 
described as Elgood Sharpton Esq., of Thistledown House, Derby- 
shire, a designation most satisfactorily proving his honourable station, 
and, of course, his high respectability. 

Sir Matthew perused the document, smiled, nodded his approval, 
replaced the red tape with which it had been tied, and lodged it in his 
coat-pocket, saying kindly to the judicious attorney as he did so, 
" Cantabury ! we must get you made coroner at the next vacancy — or 
if we miss that, something or other else that may suit you, my good 
fellow. You deserve to be taken care of, and you shall." 

Mr. Cantabury expressed his gratitude and departed ; whereupon 
Martha was again summoned to the presence of her father. 

" What a capital good girl you are, Martha," said the knight, affec- 
tionately patting her cheek, " always up and about before any of the 
rest are out of their beds — 1 tell you what, Martha, you and I will have 
our breakfast comfortably together without waiting for any of them, 
and then I will walk down with you myself to see Michael's mother, 
and settle with her about the little fellow's destination." 

Proud and happy was Martha made by this invitation, and gaily did 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 159 

she sally forth, when the cheerful meal was ended, for the rare pleasure 
of a tete-a-tete walk with the great man. Nothing could exceed Sir 
Matthew's good humour, he chatted, and joked, and talked of taking 
them all on a trip to Paris, and in short was hardly silent for a single 
iroment. But amidst all this communicative confidential gossip, he 
never said a word more concerning the business they were upon. 

Once or twice Martha began to say something intended to preface 
an inquiry as to the local destination of Michael, but some lively sally 
•from her father always turned the conversation into another channel, 
t'" at length they entered the gloomy region of Hoxley-lane ; after 
which, neither or them spoke again till Martha said — " This is the 
house, papa.— But I believe we had better go in the back way. Shall 
I step in first and say that you are coming ?" 

" No, no, my dear, there is no occasion to be so ceremonious, we 
will go in together." 

Martha then lifted the latch, and they did go in together, causing the 
sick woman to start as if she had seen a spectre. It was nearly three 
years since Mrs. Armstrong had last found herself in the overpowering 
presence of Sir Matthew Dowling ; and the belief that this visit was for 
the express purpose of receiving her thanks, increased the embarrass- 
ment so startling a condescension was calculated to produce. 

Martha saw her colour change from pale to red, and then to pale 
again, and gently approaching her, said, " Mrs. Armstrong, my father, 
Sir Matthew Dowling, is come himself to talk with you about little 
Michael." 

" It is very — condescending, miss," murmured the poor woman, 
" and I'm very grateful for this, and all favours." 

" Very good, very good," said the knight, in return — not, however, 
looking very steadily in her face. " This young lady, who I suppose 
you know is Miss Martha Dowling, my daughter, paid you a visit 
yesterday, I believe, and spoke to you, did she not, about your little 
boy?" 

" Yes, sir," was the concise reply. 

"And you approved, she tells me, of his= being put to a good 
trade." 

" In course, sir, I can't but approve, and be thankful for his being 
put in the way to help himself, and his poor crippled brother, too, when 
I am gone — but — I hope no offence, sir, I'd be right glad to know 
your honour's pleasure as to the place where he is to be." 

" And that is a little more than I can tell you, my good woman," 
replied Sir Matthew, in a friendly familiar tone. " I can tell you 
where his master that is to be, lives. That," he continued, drawing 
the indentures out of his pocket, " that we shall find written down 
here — But he is one of the first in his line, and a capital trade it is, I 
promise you, so that he has got work-shops, I believe, in half-a-dozen 
places. However, I'll make it my business to learn whereabouts 
Michael is to be, and let you know." 

As he said this, Sir Matthew opened the instrument and busied him- 
self in unscrewing the top of his neat little portable ink-bottle. 



160 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



" Then if it is all the same to you sir," replied the widow Armstrong, 
in rather an unsteady voice, " I should like well to know where it 
would be, before I put my hand to the binding him." 

Martha looked up, more than half afraid that such cautious accep- 
tance of the important service offered, might offend her hot-tempered 
father ; but equally to her surprise and satisfaction she perceived that 
his countenance instead of expressing any thing of the kind, wore a 
look of more than usual good-humour, as he replied, beginning at the 
same time to replace the red tape round the papers. " That shall be 
just as it pleases you, my good woman, we won't say any thing more 
about it, just yet." Then turning to Martha, he said, in a sort of half- 
whisper. " I can't stay now, Martha, we must go, dear, because I ex- 
pect to find some one waiting for me at home. But we must not de- 
ceive the poor dear woman either. She ought to know, Martha that 
this is a chance I may not have again, God knows when, if ever. 
Can't you explain to her, my dear, that this is a sort of thing that by 
no means happens every day. Sometime ago I had an opportunity of 
doing this gentleman a good turn about one of his principal hands for 
whom he was greatly interested — for he is like a father to them all, 
and he promised then to return it whenever I had any thing of the 
same sort at heart. So now, I have written to him about this boy, and 
he has answered me as kind as possible ; only he tells me that he has 
got such quantities of applications from the people round him, that 
when he has a vacancy among the bound hands, he can't keep it 
open, and that he must have yes or no at once. I am afraid, therefore, 
that we must give it up, my dear." 

This was " soft soder," as the inimitable Slick calls it ; and the poor 
doubting, trembling, helpless bit of human nature, lying on the bed 
from whence she knew full well she should never rise, did not listen to 
it unmoved. She felt, as he intended she should, her heavy responsi- 
bility, and looked up into the face of Martha in a manner that very 
speakingly asked for counsel. 

The good girl understood the appeal, and frankly answered it. 
" You hear what my father says, Mrs. Armstrong," said she, leaning 
over the poor invalid. » 

"Yes, miss, I do," replied the anxious woman, "and, God help 
me ! — I feel as weak and ignorant as a baby about what I ought to 
say in return." 

" I don't know how that can be," said the innocent Martha a little 
reproachfully. " You know exactly how the case stands, and must 
certainly be able to judge what you think it right to do under these 
circumstances." 

" I hope excuse, miss, if I seem over mothersome and foolish about 
him," replied the poor widow in a deprecating tone, " but he's a pre- 
cious boy to me, and the binding him, comes upon me unawares 
like." 

" Well then, there's nothing more to be said, I think," said Martha 
withdrawing herself from the bed. " It seems a matter of feeling, 
papa, and I don't think we ought to battle against it, for it is very 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 161 

likely she would be unhappy if we persuaded her, let it turn out as it 
would." 

Instead of answering, Sir Matthew suddenly wheeled round, and 
looked out of the window, as if the bit of stony mould extending 
ten feet deep to the ditch that fenced it, contained something of pecu- 
liar interest and curiosity. During this interval, which lasted about a 
minute, the widow Armstrong again fixed her eyes upon the face of 
Martha, with an appealing look that seemed to implore assistance from 
her judgment, while it evidently expressed confidence in her kindness. 
When Sir Matthew again permitted his countenance to be visible to 
them, it expressed nothing but indifference ; but Martha thought it was 
such an easy good-natured sort of indifference that there could be no 
danger in bringing him back to the subject, even though he said as he 
turned round, " Come, my dear Martha, I cannot stay another moment, 
I do assure you." 

" I am quite ready, papa," she replied ; " but don't you think it is 
almost a pity to let such an opportunity be lost for poor Michael ?" 

" Certainly it is, my dear," he replied in the most good-humoured 
accent imaginable. " But what would you have me do, my dear child? 
Depend upon it there is no real charity in assisting people against 
their will, or in a manner in any way contrary to their inclinations. 
You know perfectly well, that it was my real and sincere wish that this 
good woman's child should be well provided for. An opportunity for 
doing this, better far than I could have hoped for, is now proposed 
but evidently does not meet her wishes. Unfortunately I must send 
the answer by to-day's post, and surely you would not recommend me 
to accept this situation for the boy, excellent as it is, against his 
mother's will ?" 

u No papa — only it seems to me that Mrs. Armstrong has not quite 
made up her mind about it ; and I thought perhaps that a few minutes' 
consideration might enable her to perceive how great a loss it would be 
to Michael were she to refuse it." 

" Well, Martha !" returned the knight with a sort of jocose sigh, 
and at the same time seating himself on one of the widow's treasured 
rush-bottomed chairs, " I would rather make the person I expect wait 
at Dowling Lodge for an hour, than either disappoint your kind heart, 
or hurry this good woman into saying any thing that she does not really 
mean. What does the little fellow himself say about it ?" 

" He's grateful and thankful, sir, for what is offered to him, and 
willing he is to accept it. — Tis only my poor weak sick heart that has 
got no courage left in it. You think, miss, he had better take it?" she 
added, turning her anxious eyes upon Martha. 

For a moment Martha felt a repugnance to the taking upon herself, 
as it were, the responsibility of the transaction, but an exclamation 
from her father settled the business at once. 

" Poor soul !" said he. " How natural is this weakness ! Give her, 
by your advice, the strength she wants, Martha — it is the most valuable 
gift you can bestow !" 

" Indeed papa is very right, Mrs. Armstrong," said Martha cheer- 

M 



162 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

fully. " Michael will never forgive me if I let you throw away this 
golden opportunity." 

" And I am sure I should never forgive myself if I threw away for 
him any thing that you could call so, my dear young lady, — I know 
full well all you have done for him, and been to him, and to doubt 
your judgment, would be a sin indeed. So if you please, miss, I am 
quite ready to sign." 

Had Sir Matthew Dowling wanted any strengthening of the motives 
which actuated the deed he was about to perpetrate, he would have 
found it in this speech. The phrase, " I know what you have been to 
him," requiring no very forced interpretation, in order to suggest to 
him that it was probable she knew what he had been to him also. 
However, he felt no inclination to disturb the business which was pro- 
ceeding so satisfactorily, and therefore again smiled very kindly as he 
said, " I am sure nobody can find fault with your conduct in this 
business, Mrs. Armstrong. It has been exactly what it ought to be, 
and the better I think of you, the more anxious I feel to ensure this 
excellent situation for your boy. But stay a moment, I came down 
here in such a hurry, that I forgot the necessity of having a witness. 
Wait here for a moment, Martha, and I dare say I shall find some of 
Mrs. Armstrong's neighbours who may not only be able to witness 
these indentures, but also to give her their opinion upon the advantage 
of them." 

So saying the knight arose, and waikedout of the room ; but, before 
an anxious inquiry from the poor woman about the possibility of writ- 
ing to her boy could be answered by Martha, he returned again, fol- 
lowed by Parsons and another overlooker from one of his own factories, 
whom he found accidentally close to the premises. 

" Here is a bit of good luck for us, Martha," said Sir Matthew, as 
he entered, " I should have been sadly put to it for time, if I had had 
to run about till I could find a man who knew how to write his name. 
I have asked two fellows already, but they both said, * No.' — There is 
one comfort for you, at any rate, Mrs. Armstrong, your boy will never 
be in such a state of ignorance as that." 

Sir Matthew as he spoke, again untied the paper, and dipping a 
pen which had been stuck within his coat sleeve into the ink-bottle, he 
gave both pen and paper into the hands of Martha, saying, "There 
dear, you will hold it for her better than I shall — only make haste ! — 
I hate to break an appointment." 

Martha received the paper, and without a moment's delay, laid it 
before the pale and trembling woman, placing at the same time the 
pen in her right hand, and indicating with her own finger the place, 
to which Sir Matthew had pointed, as that where her signature should 
be. 

The poor woman received both submissively ; and after a moment's 
pause, looked up once more into the face of Martha who was bending 
over her. A kind and encouraging smile sat upon her plain but ex- 
pressive features, and without further hesitation, the widow Armstrong 
signed her name. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 163 

" Here Parsons, sign away !" said Sir Matthew gaily, as he with- 
drew the document from the bed. The ready servant obeyed, and his 
fellow-driver followed his example, without waiting for any further 
instructions. 

" Now then, Martha, let us be off!" cried the knight, moving to- 
wards the door as he pocketed the papers. But stopping suddenly 
before he opened it he said, " By the way, Parsons, as chance has 
brought you here, we may as well make use of you about getting a 
few necessaries for our little stocking-weaver. We must trust to you 
to get whatever may be wanted. He may take the clothes he has worn 
at the lodge, for Sundays, but of course they would not be suitable for 
him to work in." 

" Very well, Sir Matthew, I will see about it," replied the important 
overlooker. 

" I must have no time lost, if you please," rejoined his master rather 
sharply ; "for Mr. Elgood Sharp ton mentioned in his letter, that he 
should be having some of his people passing this way who might 
take charge of him, and I am sure I can't say when they may happen, 
to call. So go directly into the town, Parsons, and buy whatever you 
think the boy may want. I dare say this will be very nearly the last 
expense, Mrs. Armstrong," he added, " that I shall be put to for him, 
and I assure you that I shall pay it very willingly." 

With these words he left the room, and Martha pronouncing a short 
but kind farewell, followed him. Soon after she had overtaken him, 
and again passed her arm through his, she was startled by a violent 
burst of laughter, and on looking back, perceived at no great distance 
behind them, Parsons and his companion, taking their way over a style 
that led by a short cut to Brookford factory. It was from them the 
hearty laugh had proceeded. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



MISS BROTHERTON VISITS THE WIDOW ARMSTRONG, AND LAYS THE 
FOUNDATION OF A VERY LASTING FRIENDSHIP — SHE THEN CALLS 
AT DOWLING LODGE, BUT FAILS OF OBTAINING WHAT SHE WENT FOR. 

As soon as Miss Brother ton and Mrs. Tremlett had finished their 
breakfast on the morning after the interview with Sophy Drake in the 
drawing-room at Milford Park, they set off together on foot to visit the 
widow Armstrong in Hoxley-lane. 

i{ Nothing can happen to us worse than our adventure in the car- 
riage the day before yesterday," observed the young lady ; " you will 
confess, dear friend, will you not, that Sir Matthew's walking into the 

m 2 



164 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

carriage was more terrible than any thing likely to befall us on the 
high-road without one?" 

" Why, I suppose I must, my dear," answered the old lady ; " for 
to tell you the truth, I don't think you could look more put out if a 
constable were to come up and arrest you." 

" Decidedly not, Mrs. Tremlett ; and listen to the birds, and sniff 
the sweet air, and then tell me if we are not wise to walk ?" 

The old woman confessed that she really did enjoy it, and on they 
went with the gardener's boy for a guide, till in less than an hour they 
found themselves before the door of No. 12, in Hoxley-lane. Pro- 
bably their little pioneer was not one of the widow's visiters, for the 
pass through the hedge, leading to the back-kitchen door appeared 
unknown to him, and in answer to Miss Brotherton's knock for admit- 
tance, the principal entrance to No. 12 was opened by the ragged 
mistress of the tenement. 

" Does the widow Armstrong live here?" inquired Mary. "Yes, 
ma'am," observed the woman gloomily; continuing as she made way 
for the ladies to enter, " The widow Armstrong is a lucky woman — 
she has got but one child left to provide for, and yet the gentlefolks 
keeps coming to help her, but nobody thinks of me and my ten young 
ones." 

The ready hand of Miss Brotherton was immediately in her purse. 
" That is a large family indeed, my good woman. Are they none of 
them old enough to help themselves ?" 

" The seven oldest have all been in the factory from a'most the time 
they could stand, ma'am," replied Mrs. Sykes, " and if they hadn't, 
they must have been dead and buried long ago for want of bread. But 
though they have worked poor creturs, early and late, there's no more 
come of it, than that their bones be here instead of in the churchyard." 

" But with so large a number, all receiving wages," said Miss Bro- 
therton, gently, " I should have hoped that you might have found 
yourselves better off than you seem to be." 

" And that's what we are told, ma'am, from year's end to year's end, 
and we must bear it, for there is no help. But 'tis a'most as bitter as 
the work that grinds us." 

Neither the person or manner of Mrs. Sykes were in any degree 
prepossessing ; she was dirty, and in every way untidy in the extreme. 
She had on her feet the fragments of a pair of men's shoes, but no 
stockings, the rest of her clothing being barely sufficient to cover her. 
Her eye, voice, and complexion, furnished strong indications of her 
being accustomed to take spirits, while her frightfully thin limbs gave 
her the appearance of being half starved. In short, it was impossible 
to look at her without feeling that she was a degraded, as well as a 
suffering being. Mary Brotherton did feel this, and her heart sunk 
within her as she thought of Sophy Drake, of her drunken father, and 
of all Mrs. Tremlett had told her respecting the vice, which like a 
wide-spreading and hideous epidemic, seemed to ravage in all direc- 
tions the miserable neighbourhood in which fate had placed her. She 
shuddered as she contemplated the wretched being that stood before 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 105 

her, and till she had spoken the words given above, a deep feeling of 
the woman's unworthiness chilled the ready pity of her warm young 
heart. But both in these words themselves, and in the tone of quiet 
settled despair in which they were spoken, there was a frightful and 
mysterious allusion to some species of injustice and cruelty, under 
which accusation she seemed herself to be included. 

The distaste and reprobation that were a moment before making 
hasty inroads upon her benevolence, seemed suddenly arrested as she 
listened; and she was about to repeat again the questions she had 
already so uselessly asked, as to whence this universal severity of 
judgment against the factory labourers arose ; and wherefore, beyond 
all others, submitted to the sentence which dooms human beings to 
toil, these .people should appear to loath their employment, and exe- 
crate, as it should seem, the very means by which they lived. But ere 
her lips opened to demand the explanation to which she so eagerly 
desired to listen, a glance at the hard features of the wretched woman 
checked her. " It cannot be from such as these," thought she, " that 
truth and instruction can be reasonably looked for" — and as she 
silently gave her alms, and moved onwards towards the door which 
had been pointed to, as that of the widow Armstrong, something like 
a systematic project for making herself mistress of the knowledge she 
wanted, for the first time suggested itself to her imagination. 

Mrs. Sykes eyed the silver largesse, as it fell into her hand, with a 
glance that seemed to devour it, and the words of thanks she uttered 
were almost hysterical in their eager vehemence. After delaying a 
moment for the contemplation of this precious " drudge 'twixt man and 
man," she opened the door of communication, and Miss Brotherton 
and her friend passed into the dwelling-room of the widow Armstrong. 

Contrary to custom, her lame boy, Edward, was sitting on the side 
of her bed, and when Mary entered, he was holding her hand, and 
gazing in her face with an expression of countenance which appeared 
to both the intruders to be the most piteous they had ever looked upon. 
The poor child was looking, too, most wretchedly ill, and the first idea 
which suggested itself was, that he felt himself to be dying. 

Notwithstanding the extreme poverty of the widow Armstrong, there 
was an air of decency and decorum about her, that might in any situa- 
tion have commanded respect ; but when contrasted with the appear- 
ance of her neighbour, seemed to indicate a claim to more observance 
than her visiters were showing by this sudden and uninvited entrance. 

" I beg your pardon, Mrs. Armstrong," said Mary, gently, " for 
breaking in upon you so abruptly ; and 1 fear our doing so may have 
startled your sick child. — This little fellow is very ill, I fear." 

" It is long since he has known health, ma'am," replied the widow ; 
" but it is not that which makes him look so white and trembling 
now. We have lost what was dearer to us both than all the world 
beside — and though I don't think as this one will ever look up again, 
I can't find a word in my heart to comfort him !" 

" What, then, has happened to you V said Mary, with much inte- 
rest — " Nothing bad to your son Michael, I hope ?" 



166 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

"You know Michael, ma'am?" said the poor woman, anxiously. 

" I have seen him at Sir Matthew Dowlingfs," she replied. 

" I wish you never had, ma'am !" rejoined the widow, bitterly — 
" We were only starving before, but now we are worse than that." 

" Do explain to me what you mean, Mrs. Armstrong," said 
Mary. 

" I ought to do it, ma'am, for you speak kindly ; and that's a claim 
poor folks can seldom withstand. — But how can I tell you the matter, 
ma'am? I know nothing — and that's the reason why poor Edward and 
I are so miserable." 

" But that is a bad way to get into, my good Mrs. Armstrong," said 
Mary, cheerfully. " Don't fret yourself about fancied evils, which 
perhaps do not exist. Little Edward here should know better than 
that." 

The pale, brokenhearted boy looked at her with lack-lustre eyes, 
but said nothing. 

«' Are you uneasy because Michael has not been down to see you 
lately ?" resumed Miss Brotherton. 

" He never failed to come, ma'am, till he was carried away from us !" 
replied the widow, with a sob, that seemed the result of strength ex- 
hausted, and weakness that could struggle no longer. 

" Carried away from you !" cried Mary, changing colour. " What 
do you mean, Mrs. Armstrong ? who has carried away Michael from 
you ?" 

"Sir Matthew Dowling, ma'am, has had him taken away," and 
another sob followed the words. 

"Do not think I torment you thus from idle curiosity," pursued 
Mary, bending over her; "but I entreat you to explain to me fully 
what you mean. I am greatly interested for your little boy." 

" I thank you for it, ma'am," returned the poor mother, mournfully ; 
" but I can tell little that you, or any grand lady, the friend of Sir 
Matthew, would think to the purpose. Yet the parting with him with- 
out one blessing, or one kiss, is hard to bear, though we don't justly 
know that any harm's to come to him." 

" I am no particular friend of Sir Matthew Dowling's," replied 
Mary, with an accent which perhaps spoke more than her words. 

"Then / will tell you about Michael!" exclaimed the lame boy, 
coming round the bed to the place where she was standing, and look- 
ing into her face as if he thought he could read all her thoughts there. 
" You have seen poor Mike when he was living there, ma'am?" 

" Yes, I have, my dear boy," she replied, gazing with deep feeling 
at his pale, but beautiful countenance ; " I have seen him there more 
than once, Edward, and I am quite sure he was not happy, though he 
was dressed so fine." 

" He was more unhappy ten times over," replied Edward, "than 
when he was as ragged as me." 

" Was he unkindly treated ?" demanded Mary. 
" He was beaten, kicked, and spit upon !" cried Edward, bursting 
into tears; " and then he was told to laugh, and look merry." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 167 

"A wretched, wretched, sort of cruelty !" she replied, " of which I 
can well believe Sir Matthew capable. But you surely do uot suppose 
that he has run away from it without telling you or his mother that he 
had such an intention ?" 

" If you knew Mike better, ma'am, you wouldn't think that he could 
do such wickedness," said the mother. " He has stood beating with strap 
and stick for years, ma'am, young as he is; and never asked to stop 
from the mill a day, though he has been bruised almost to a jelly ; — and 
worse than that, too, poor lamb ! a hundred fold, with such a heart as 
his, he has seen his lame brother there, that was always dearer, a 
great deal, to him than himself — he has seen the cruel stripes fall on 
his poor shoulders, too ; and though he has come home with his little 
face washed with tears from it, he didn't think of running away." 

Mary saw that she had given pain, and hastened to atone for it by 
expressing her sorrow for supposing such a thing possible ; and then 
repeated her request, that she might be told what it was that had 
happened. 

The widow then related more succinctly than might have been ex- 
pected, all that had passed between herself, her boy, and Miss Martha 
Dowling, on the morning which followed the theatrical representation 
at Dowling Lodge. And before she proceeded further, Edward bore 
testimony to the spirited and courageous willingness with which his 
brother had adopted the proposed scheme. He had, it seemed, as 
usual, watched Teddy's return from the factory — told him what Sir 
Matthew proposed doing for him, and declared, that hard as it would 
be to part with him and " mother," he was ready and willing to start, 
and was quite determined to be the best boy that ever was 'prenticed, 
and to be workman enough to maintain them both as soon as his time 
was out. 

Here the widow again resumed her narrative, and related very ac- 
curately the scene of the following morning; dwelling much on the 
young lady's kind manner, and on her own putting it to her whether 
she advised that the child should go, or not. 

"And Martha Dowling counselled you to let him go?" demanded 
Miss Brotherton. 

" Yes, again and again, she did," replied the poor mother. 
" You are quite sure it was Miss Martha?" 

" Oh, yes ! ma'am ; my Mike took care to make me understand that, 
the day they came together." 

"Then be quite easy in your mind, Mrs. Armstrong," said Mary, 
eagerly. u I have no great liking for Sir Matthew Dowling. I do 
not think well of him, nor have I much to say in favour of any of his 
family. They seem to me to be cold-hearted, selfish people. But for 
this one, this Miss Martha that you speak of, I will undertake to an- 
swer for it that she has never deceived you, and that if she advised you 
to let Michael go, it was because she thought the doing so would be 
advantageous for him." 

(C Bless you for ever and for ever, ma'am !" cried Mrs. Armstrong, 
seizing the hand of Mary, and pressing it to her lips. " There is 



16.8 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

truth, ma'am, in your voice, and in your eyes. Do as I do, Edward, 
dear ! look at the kind face of this young lady, and see if you can't 
find comfort from what she says ? I did think, myself, ignorant as I 
am, that the young lady had an honest face. But, oh ! ma'am, let it 
be as it will, and make the very best of it, 'tis cruel to have our 
darling taken away in this fashion, without one word of take-leave and 
blessing!" 

" Indeed it is !" replied Mary; " and your being ignorant of the 
place of his destination increases this anxiety. But on this point, at 
least, I think I shall be able to set your mind at rest. Before this 
time to-morrow, I will take care to see some part of the family at the 
Lodge, and shall certainly not scruple to inquire every particular re- 
specting your boy. Keep up your spirits therefore, both of you ; and 
for the future, let this little fellow here look to me for his wages. I 
won't have him go to the factory any more. What sum has he been 
receiving for his work ?" 

Astonishment very literally rendered the widow Armstrong dumb, 
on hearing this most extraordinary proposal. Poor soul ! a few short 
days ago it would have been sufficient to make her forget her weak- 
ness and her want, and have put her in a state of mind that queens 
might envy ; for she would hardly have been able to remember that it 
was possible to have another wish ; but now the first use she made on 
recovering her speech, was to exclaim, " Oh ! Michael ! Michael! why 
beant you by to hear this?" 

" He shall hear it, Mrs. Armstrong," said Mary, in a voice of such 
cheerful confidence, that the terrors of both mother and son seemed to 
vanish before it. Mrs. Tremlett, too, ventured to add an encouraging 
commentary upon Mary's promised visit of inquiry at the Lodge, ob- 
serving, that it was altogether out of probability that they should want 
to make any mystery as to where the little fellow was gone. 

Mrs. Armstrong, as she listened, seemed almost too happy to credit 
the evidence of her own senses ; but in the deep-set melancholy eye 
of Edward, there was still an expression of suffering and of fear that 
looked as if misery had taken a hold upon him that could not be re- 
linquished. 

" Now I must go !" said the young lady, rising, " or I shall hardly 
have time to keep my promise. But I must settle with you first, my 
dear boy. What was the amount of your wages by the month ?" 

" Six shillings, ma'am," replied Edward, looking at her, as she 
drew out her purse, with an eye that seemed to doubt what it beheld. 
« Six shillings !" cried Miss Brotherton, as she put the pitiful wages 
of a long month's agony into the little trembling hand. " And have you 
lost your health and liberty for this V Tears started to her eyes, as 
she contemplated the look of wonder and delight expressed by the 
countenance of the poor widow ; yet that look was not turned upon 
her. Stretching out her arms to the boy, she caught him to her bo- 
som, and held him there, much as if she had suddenly beheld him 
snatched from the fangs of some devouring monster. The face of the 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 169 

child himself, she could not see, but hiss whole frame trembled, and 
they fancied he was shedding tears. 

" God bless you both !" she said, " to-morrow you shall see me 
again." And so saying she took the arm of her friend, and again 
passed through the dwelling-room of Mrs. Sykes. The woman had 
now three little dirty creatures round her, to whom she was giving 
bread. 

"Heaven keep you, ma'am! This is your treat!" she said, as 
Mary and her friend passed through, " It is the first time for many a 
week that I have fed 'em so freely, poor creturs." 

Miss Brotherton's heart was too full to answer — she nodded her 
head and passed on. Their homeward walk, up Hoxley-lane, across 
the London road, and along a pretty shaded bridle-road that led to a 
gate in her own park-paling, was performed almost entirely in silence. 
There is a state of mind in which ideas come with too much violence 
and rapidity to be told off in words. When this happens from an 
excess of happy imaginings, no condition can be more delightful : but 
when, as in the present case, it arises from the remembrance of painful 
realities, it is greatly the reverse. The misery around her was no 
longer a matter of doubtful speculation, but of most frightful cer- 
tainty. Neither was it any vice in little Edward Armstrong, which 
drove him to offer up his sickly suffering frame to ceaseless labour at 
the rate of threepence for each long, painful day. She felt oppressed, 
overwhelmed, and almost hopeless" Yet at that time Mary Brotherton 
knew not, guessed not, dreamed not, of the hundredth part of what 
the unhappy class who had thus roused her human sympathies, were 
daily and hourly suffering around her. 

The first words she spoke on entering her house were to order her 
carriage, and having gone so far in the performance of the task she 
had undertaken, she turned with tender kindness to her old friend, 
and gave as much care to her comfort and refreshment, as if the rela- 
tive situation which they had borne to each other in days of yore was 
just reversed, and that Mary was the nurse, and Mrs. Tremlett the 
nursling-. 

;< You shall do nothing more before dinner, my dear good soul, but 
lie down upon the sofa, and get cool. Not even Mrs. Gabberly, I 
suppose, could see any thing particularly dangerous and improper, in 
my going alone to pay a visit to Martha Dowling." 

And alone to Dowling Lodge the heiress went, pretty steadfastly 
determined not to leave it, till she had learnt exactly at what point of 
the earth's surface Michael Armstrong might be found. 

She inquired for Martha, and was shown as usual into my lady's 
morning drawing-room, where to her extreme annoyance she found her 
ladyship, Sir Matthew, Lady Clarissa Shrimpton, and Miss Mogg. 

If Lady Dowling could have been glad to see any pretty young 
lady, it would have been Miss Brotherton, and she did exert herself, 
more than usual, to be civil ; while, on the contrary, Sir Matthew both 
felt and evinced considerably less satisfaction at the sight of her, than 
he had ever done since the fact of her heiress-ship had become matter 



170 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

of unquestionable notoriety to the whole neighbourhood. But if his 
reception was cold, that of Lady Clarissa was warm, for she actually 
threw her arms round the young lady, reproaching her at the same 
time very tenderly for not having sent to say she was going to drive to 
Dowling Lodge. " I should have liked your carriage, my dear, so 
much better than my broiling little phaeton !" 

It was hardly possible at that moment, that either one of the four 
persons present could have said any thing to her sufficiently interest- 
ing to fully awaken her sense of hearing ; unless, indeed, Sir Matthew 
had led the conversation to Michael Armstrong. But this he did not 
do ; and, therefore, having endured Lady Clarissa's embrace, and an- 
swered her mechanically, she knew not what, Miss Brotherton walked 
up to the sofa where the lady of the mansion as usual sat enthroned, 
and said, " Will you be so good, ma'am, as to let Miss Martha be 
told that I am come to call upon her V 

The surprised eyebrows with which her ladyship listened to this 
speech would, probably, under other circumstances, have given birth 
to an exceedingly comical caricature, but at this moment Mary Bro- 
therton had no fun in her thoughts, and not immediately receiving an 
answer, she said, loud enough for Sir Matthew to hear, " Will you 
give me leave to ring the bell, and ask for the pleasure of seeing Miss 
Martha?" 

Lady Dowling still remained silently staring at her ; but not so Sir 
Matthew. He reached the bell almost as soon as the young lady her- 
self, and fully persuaded that this most unaccountable request could 
only proceed from some little manoeuvring project at that moment 
labouring in the fair Brotherton's head, which had, somehow or other, 
his son Augustus for its object, his countenance resumed all its former 
affectionate urbanity towards her, and taking her hand too suddenly 

for any contrivance to prevent it, he said — " Martha? Do 

you want to see Martha, my dear? — To be sure you shall. She is a 
Dowling, Miss Brotherton, though not quite like the rest of us. But 
where is the Dowling, young or old, male or female, who would not 
fly from the farthest corner of the world to see you I" 

"I only want to see Miss Martha just now, sir," replied Mary, half 
smiling. 

" And Martha you shall see, my dear, without a moment's delay. 
Desire Miss Martha Dowling to come here instantly !" he continued, 
as the door opened, and a servant appeared at it — adding, when the 
door closed again, " You do her an honour, my dear Miss Brotherton, 
in thus asking for her, that more than one of her family, perhaps, 
might feel inclined to envy." But as Miss Brotherton made no an- 
swer at all, and Lady Clarissa began to hem, and fidget, and walk to- 
wards the window, all which the observant knight well knew were 
pretty lures, meant to recal him, he contented himself with gallantly 
drawing forward an arm-chair for the heiress, at no great distance 
from Lady Dowling, and then strode across the apartment to sooth 
the irritation of his noble friend. 

Martha never suffered a summons from her father to remain a mo- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 171 

ment unanswered. The message had been delivered to her in his 
name, and she entered almost immediately. Miss Brotherton, who 
was in no humour to make small talk for her ladyship, instantly rose, 
and went forward to meet her. " I took the liberty of sending for 
you, my dear Miss Martha," she said, '* to request you would let me 
speak to you alone, for five minutes. — Will you take a parasol, and 
let us walk into the shrubbery together?" 

Martha, who certainly liked Miss Brotherton, notwithstanding the 
late painful scene, produced by her indiscretion, and who, moreover, 
at this moment, joyfully recollected how charming an anecdote she 
had now to relate concerning her father, acquiesced in this proposal 
with a ready smile, and saying that her parasol was always in the 
hall, the two young ladies left the room together. 

No sooner did she find herself beneath the sheltering trees of the 
extensive shrubbery, and ascertained, by looking round, that they were 
really alone, than Miss Brotherton, passing her arm through that of 
her companion, said, " My dear Miss Martha, I cannot help feeling 
great interest in the welfare of the little boy whom we saw performing 
the other night — little Michael Armstrong, I mean. Will you have 
the kindness to tell me where he is now ?" 

Instead of giving a direct answer, Martha eagerly exclaimed, " I 
am so glad, Miss Brotherton, that you asked to see me, for I have 
quite longed to tell you all particulars about that little fellow — and 
all that papa has been doing for him. I do assure you, Miss Brother- 
ton, that notwithstanding what you saw the other night, papa has 
been, and still is, most excessively kind to him. Only he was very 
troublesome about the acting, and papa's temper is hasty. That, as 
you must be aware, Miss Brotherton, is the case with many people ; 
but there are very few who have courage and candour to own it, as 
my father does. In justice to him, I must tell you what happened the 
morning after the unfortunate play. My father sent for me, and 
said, that he was perfectly miserable in his mind on account of the 
anger he had shown towards Michael. He told me, as frankly as 
possible, that he had beat him, and that in consequence of this, the 
boy was evidently so afraid of him that he had no enjoyment when in 
his presence. And he went on to say that such being the case, he 
was determined to apprentice the child to a good trade, where he 
might learn to maintain himself comfortably, and assist his family be- 
sides. So you see, Miss Brotherton," concluded Martha, in an eager 
voice, and with heightened colour, " you see that if papa loses his 
temper, he knows how to atone for it." 

Miss Brotherton listened to this statement with the most unbroken 
attention ; and had she not been previously aware of the kind and 
excellent nature of Martha Dowling, she would have become so then. 
Her hopes, too, that all was fair and right concerning the disposal of 
the little boy, were strengthened ; and in full confidence of receiving 
a satisfactory answer, she said, " I am very much obliged to you, 
Martha, for telling me all this, because I truly feel an interest in the 



172 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

little fellow. And now I hope you will tell me also to what part of 
the country he has been sent." 

"jl would tell you in a moment, if I knew, my dear Miss Brother- 
ton, but I do not. His departure at last was very sudden ; owing, 
I believe, to papa's having found some particularly good opportunity 
of sending him." 

" I wonder you should never have asked where he was sent to, Miss 
Martha," said Mary, gravely. 

"I did ask, Miss Brotherton," replied Martha ; " but papa said he 
could not recollect the name of the place." 

Mary changed colour, as she remembered the promise she had given 
to the child's mother; but after a moment's reflection, said, " Perhaps 
he may have recollected it, since, my dear — I wish you would run in, 
and ask him to come to me for a moment." 

Martha seemed to hesitate. "I am sure," said she, after a little 
hesitation, " that papa would be delighted to come here to talk with 
you, Miss Brotherton — only Lady Clarissa might — " 

" Nay, then, I'll go to him myself," said Mary, rather abruptly. 
" There is no particular objection, I suppose, to Lady Clarissa's being 
let into the secret of little Michael's abode." And immediately turn- 
ing her steps towards the house, she re-entered the drawing-room, fol- 
lowed by Martha. 

They found Sir Matthew engaged in exhibiting a portfolio of splen- 
did engravings to her ladyship, who was descanting upon them with 
rapture ; though the application of a near-sighted glass to one 
long-sighted eye, while the other was effectually closed, rendered them 
pretty nearly invisible to her. 

" I beg ten thousand pardons, Sir Matthew," said the heiress, placing 
herself at the opposite side of the loo-table, and thereby commanding 
a perfect view of his countenance ; " but you are too goodnatured, I am 
sure, to be angry with me, even though I do interrupt you. Will you 
have the kindness to tell me, sir, while Lady Clarissa is lost in admi- 
ration of that enchanting Venus, where little Michael Armstrong has 
been sent to?" 

The question was too unexpected for even Sir Matthew's sturdy self- 
possession, to receive it as he would have wished to do. His bold eye, 
which had been gaily fixed on the young lady, as she spoke to him, 
fell before her keen, inquiring glance, and he turned the page of Lady 
Clarissa's adoration with rather unseemly rapidity, as he replied, "To 
a tradesman — that is, to a manufacturer, some miles further north, 
Miss Brotherton. I have just been telling Lady Clarissa," continued 
the knight, recovering his audacity, " I have just been telling her all 
the little fellow's adventures. The love of novelty seemed to have su- 
perseded all other love in his young heart, for he was delighted to go." 

"But he could not have liked going without taking leave of his 
mother and brother, Sir Matthew. I have just seen them, and they 
are in a perfect agony about him — in fact, I am come here on purpose 
to ask where he has been sent." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 173 

" Fairest of messengers !" exclaimed the knight, with a tender smile, 
" how utterly miserable shall I be if I cannot answer you ! — I think it 
is to Halifax, I am almost sure that it is either to Halifax or Wakefield 
that he is gone." 

" You have bound the little fellow apprentice, you do not know 
where?" said Miss Brotherton, with undisguised astonishment. 

" I do not say that, my dear young lady, I know he is apprenticed 
to an excellent good man, who is a stocking-weaver ; but he has two 
or three large concerns belonging to him, and I protest to you that at 
this moment I really cannot say to which this little fellow has been 
sent." 

" I am quite shocked to give you so much trouble, Sir Matthew," 
returned Mary, " but I should be exceedingly obliged if you would 
learn the name of the place, and let me know it. I ventured, sir, to 
promise the boy's mother that I would learn this for her, and I am 
quite sure that you will not let me disappoint her." 

" Most assuredly not ! I will call or send to-morrow at the latest, my 
charming Miss Brotherton ! How I adore your benevolence ! No 
wonder you are such friends, Lady Clarissa! Your hearts are made 
upon the same model 1" 

To this satisfactory assurance Miss Brotherton made no answer ; 
but telling Sir Matthew that she should remain at home on the morrow 
for the purpose of receiving his promised information, took her leave. 

With increased dislike of Sir Matthew, perhaps, yet with no very 
serious fears about the fate of little Michael, Miss Brotherton boldly 
determined to brave all the wonder which the act might occasion, and 
ordered her carriage to stop at No. 12, Hoxley-lane, Ashleigh. 

As it happened, however, she escaped all her military admirers, and 
reached the widow Armstrong without interruption; the absorbing 
mills were in full activity, and few of the inhabitants of the miserable 
region through which she passed were left to gaze on the unwonted 
spectacle. The answer she brought was received by the widow and 
her boy with breathless attention ; but it was quite evident that it did 
not altogether remove the sort of vague terror which seemed to have 
taken possession of them. Mary's cheerful assurance, however, that 
she should soon bring them more satisfactory intelligence, could not 
be listened to without good effect ; and she left them at last so in- 
finitely happier than she had found them, that spite of Sir Matthew's 
unsatisfactory reply, and more unsatisfactory manner, she still blessed 
her morning's work. 



174 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XVII. 

A JOURNEY, BEGUN IN VERY GOOD STYLE, BUT ENDING NOT QUITE 
SO WELL A FAITHFUL DESCRIPTION OF A VALLEY IN DERBY- 
SHIRE — MICHAEL MAKES SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCE. 

And where was little Michael ? The indentures, when duly signed 
and executed, did not remain two hours in Sir Matthew Dowling's 
possession before he began to put in action the power they gave him. 
Mr. Joseph Parsons perfectly understood the nature of the "few ne- 
cessaries " which he was commanded to procure for the young stocking- 
weaver ; and accordingly, by the time Sir Matthew had taken leave of 
Martha in the hall, after their walk back from Hoxley-lane, his confi- 
dential agent was ready to attend him in his study. 

" Now, Mr. Parsons, I flatter myself that you will allow I have 
managed this business tolerably well. My excellent friend, Elgood 
Sharpton, will owe me a good turn — for, thanks to the meddling of 
old Sir Robert, 'prentice-boys are not so easily got as they used to be 
— and you and I, Mr. Parsons, have got rid of a most infernal spy. 
Now then, to business. How soon can you set off with him ?" 

" As soon as a horse can be harnessed to the jockey-cart, Sir 
Matthew." 

"The jockey-cart ! — the devil! What a fool you are, Parsons! 
Have you really no more wit in you than to propose setting off, willy- 
nilly, with this young cur, that yelped at the rate he did the other 
night, before all the fine folks in the county, in an open jockey-cart? 
Fie, Mr. Parsons, fie ! — I really had a better opinion of your under- 
standing." 

" I thought he was going to set off, at any rate, by his own free 
will, Sir Matthew," replied the superintendent, " and I knew when 
we got among the moors, it wouldn't much matter to me, if he did 
sing out." 

" You are an excellent fellow, Parsons — true to the backbone, 
and as firm as a rock — but don't you ever undertake to carry through 
such a pretty little kidnapping scheme as this, where every thing is to 
be done according to law, unless you have got the help of a little such 
stuff as this," and the knight touched his own forehead expressively 
as he spoke. 

" There's few men as wouldn't be the better for a little of that, Sir 
Matthew," returned the judicious Parsons with a submissive nod ; 
" but I'm ready and willing to do your bidding, be it what it may, 
and that's the best way of putting your honour's wit to profit." 

" You are right there, my good fellow — one captain is always better 
than two. But, however, as to master Michael, Parsons, we must 
neither let him stay loitering here till his dainty mother has questioned 
all the gossips who will come to prate with her about her boy, and 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 175 

about all the nonsense current concerning Squire Elgood Sharpton's, 
of Thistledown House ; nor yet must we carry him off at noonday in 
an open jockey-cart, without permitting him to kiss mother and bro- 
ther, and uncle and aunt, and the devil knows who beside, from one 
end of Ashleigh to the other, — all ready perhaps to tell him some amus- 
ing anecdotes concerning his future master." 

" But what be the indentures good for, Sir Matthew," shrewdly in- 
quired Mr. Parsons, " if they don't give you power over the chap, let 
him hear what he will ?" 

" Fair and softly, Mr. Parsons — there is a when and a where in all 
things. It has cost me some pounds, and a d — d deal of trouble to 
get up a cry hereabouts concerning my goodness and charity to these 
Armstrongs. Once get the boy off, and you and I between us, can 
make folks talk as loud of the great preferment he is come to, as 
mother Armstrong can about her doubts and alarms. There is no fear 
of that — I have more than one friend who will swear a thing or two 
for me. But once get up a screaming bout at the widow's, and a 
struggling scene in taking off the young gentleman, and we never 
shall hear the last of it. So, if you please, Mr. Parsons, we will just 
get the young gentleman to take a ride before he is an hour older. 
But not in a jockey-cart though. I believe you know the road and 
the baiting-place ? — By Jove ! Parsons, now I think of it, there would 
be no better joke than taking him in my own carriage for the first few 
miles, and letting you drive on, as far as Wood-End or there about, 
and wait till our coming. You know I have taken him out in the 
carriage lots of times, so he will think nothing of that — and I will 
have Crockley go with me to make the party agreeable. So off with 
you to Wood-End as fast as you can go. But it must be in the 
covered cart remember — and a trifle of cord must be in the way in 
case he gives trouble." 

Within an hour from this time, Sir Matthew Dowling's carriage was 
proceeding at a dignified and leisurely pace along a cross-country 
road which led to a lane, which led to a moor, across which was a 
track which led by another lane to Mr. Elgood Sharpton's factory in 
the desolate hollow, known by the name of " Deep Valley." 

The party, as arranged by Sir Matthew, consisted of himself, his 
friend Dr. Crockley, and Michael Armstrong. The little fellow had 
been repeatedly honoured by a seat in the same stately vehicle before, 
for the purpose of being shown off at various houses in the neighbour- 
hood, and had a notion that he was now taken out, in order to hear 
the remainder of his great fortune announced. That this final proof 
of Sir Matthew's benevolence should have for its object the sending 
him far away from Dowling Lodge would have been, but for the 
dreaded parting with his mother and brother, a source of unmixed joy 
to the little apprentice; and, even with this drawback, the distant 
hopes of his young heart might have been read in the contented medi- 
tation of his eye, as he rode silently along in front of his jocose com- 
panions, who amused themselves the while in talking very mystically 
concerning him, and his very useful and judicious destination. 



176 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

At length the carriage reached the point at which Sir Matthew in- 
tended his airing should terminate, and he looked out to reconnoitre 
the opening of a lane to the left where he expected to see the covered 
cart. Nor was he disappointed ; a covered cart, with an excellent 
stout horse in it, was drawn up close to the bank to take advantage of 
the shade of a thick elm-tree that grew upon it. As the carriage 
approached, the occupant of the humbler vehicle peeped out, and Sir 
Matthew recognised the punctual Parsons. 

" Pull the check-string, Crockley," said the knight, " We will get 
out here. That is, you may if you will, there is no occasion, I sup- 
pose, for me to trouble myself, is there V' 

"Oh! dear no," replied Dr. Crockley, cheerfully. "Here comes 
Parsons, good man and true. Get out master Michael. Jump, jump, 
and enjoy it, my fine fellow ! Perhaps you won't have much time for 
jumping when you begin learning your trade." 

Without thinking it needful to reply to what he did not very clearly 
understand, Michael did as he was bid, and sprang from the carriage 
to the ground. The well-known figure of Parsons greeted him as his 
feet touched the turf, and the next instant he felt his hand suddenly 
seized by him. 

"Shall you want me, Mr. Parsons?" said Dr. Crockley, putting 
his head out of the carriage. 

" Not at all, sir," replied the superintendent, leading Michael 
forward. " Then shut the carriage-door, John," said Sir Matthew, 
" and order the coachman to drive home." 

" Please sir! Please sir! — " uttered the plaintive voice of Michael, 
as he turned his head, and attempted to disengage his hand. " Please 
sir, is Mr. Parsons to take me away ?" 

" Yes, my boy, he is," replied the knight, loud enough for the 
footman to hear. " He is going to take you to your new master, and 
you may give my compliments to him, my dear, and tell him, that I 
have sent him a very good boy. Good bye ! — Good bye ! — Home !" 

So ended the colloquy ; the carriage turned round and drove off by 
the way it came, and Michael Armstrong was left alone with Mr. 
Joseph Parsons. He need not, however, have held the little fellow's 
hand so tight, for there was no rebellion in his heart, nor any thought 
of escape in his head. He knew his companion too well to hope for 
any explanation from him respecting this sudden manner of sending 
him off, and child as he was, he had no inclination to weep before 
him; but, on the contrary, his young heart swelled with a proud 
determination to behave well, and to set about his new employment 
with a stout spirit. Nevertheless, when he arrived at the cart he 
paused for a moment, before he obeyed the orders of Parsons to 
" climb up," and ventured to say, " Please sir, beant I to see mother 
any more?" 

" Climb up! I tell you," said the brute, clenching his 6st at him, 
" and if you bother me with any more questions, I'll just give you this 
in your mouth to stop your jabbering." 

Had Michael counted twenty years instead of ten, he could not 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 177 

more resolutely have screwed his spirit to endurance than he did as 
he now clambered up, and placed himself, as lie was directed, in the 
back part of the vehicle, not another syllable passed his lips. For 
four hours the slow but sore-footed cart-horse, jogged on through a 
lane, that would have made any pace beyond a walk, intolerable. 
At the end of that time, the cart stopped before the door of a 
lonely public-house that formed a corner, round which the road turned 
off at nearly a right angle, and stretched across one of those wild and 
desolate moors which are, perhaps, only to be found in such perfection 
of dark and stoney ruggedness in Derbyshire. Michael, as he de- 
scended from the cart, looked out upon the unlimited expanse of 
dreariness, and shuddered ; but his mind had not been sufficiently 
filled with the remembrance of brighter objects, to give the scene as 
full effect upon him, as it might have produced on others. 

The " Mucklestone Moor," haunted by the black dwarf, was a plea- 
sant spot compared to it; for there the barren heath was only strewed 
with fragments of stones around one certain spot whence rose, doubt- 
less with some pretence to picturesque dignity, " a huge column of 
unhewn granite." But on the Ridgetop Moor of Derbyshire, no object 
reared itself above the rest, either to attract or relieve the eye. As 
far as sight could reach, the wild heath was encumbered with a 
crowded layer of large and shapeless gray stones, defying the air of 
heaven to nourish vegetation among them, and making any effort of 
man to remove the congregated mass, desperate and unavailing. Arid, 
rugged, desolate, was the desert that spread around ; and to those 
who knew the nature of the operations carrying on in every direction 
near it, no great stretch of imagination would have been necessary to 
suggest the idea of fitness, and sympathy between the district, and 
the most influential portion of its population. This is, indeed, a 
fitness that seems often found. Where towering mountains scale the 
heavens the hardy natives show a spirit pure and clear as the sweet 
air by which they live. In the rich valleys of the East the lazy pea- 
sant eats his rice, purchased with easy labour, and is content to dream 
away his being in the sultry shade. And in the flinty region of our 
northern moors, the race of Millocrats batten, and grow fat, as if they 
were conscious of, and rejoiced in the local sympathy. 

A stunted elderly lad of all work, came forth on hearing the rum- 
bling of the wheels. "Ask the dame if she has got two beds in one 
room !" said Mr. Parsons, descending from the driving-seat, of which 
he had had quite as much as he desired. The message brought out a 
hideous crone, whose sharp visage looked as if it had drawn itself up 
into points and angles while battling with the rough blasts that roared, 
whistled, and moaned about her dwelling. 

" And who be you?" was her first salutation. To which Mr. Par- 
sons only nodded graciously in reply. 

" Dear me! Be it you, sir?" exclaimed the woman. " I ax your 
pardon, for not knowing your honour at a glance. Beds? Ay, ay, 
plenty of beds, sir. — Please to walk in. Who is this fine young'un? 
He can't have nothing to do with the mills, any way." 



178 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" This a fine holiday suit, dame, that Sir Matthew has been pleased 
to bestow upon him," replied Mr. Parsons, "and if he had behaved 
himself a little better, he might have lived like a prince to the end of 
his days ; but he is an untoward chap, and chose to cry, when he 
should have laughed. And so, you see, the fine folks at the lodge 
got tired of him.' 

" What then! — This be the boy, be it, as we have had so many 
talking about ? He was to be made a gentleman of by Sir Matthew 
Dowling? And so he is turned off, is he?" 

This was said as the old woman led the way to the receiving-room, 
that is to say, the kitchen of the mansion, and here, though the season 
was still warm elsewhere, a large fire was burning. That its warmth 
•was welcome might be gathered from the fact, that the only persons in 
possession of the room were sitting or standing close beside it. The 
guests, before the arrival of the new comers, amounted only to three, 
namely, a young woman pacing her way to a distant service, a stout 
lad, her brother, who travelled with her, to carry her box and guard 
her from harm ; and a venerable looking man with gray hair, but 
having withal bright eyes, and a florid skin, and bearing in his dress 
and demeanour, the appearance of a thriving agriculturist. 

It was with so bustling a movement, that the landlady pushed back 
the little round table on which stood the farmer's mug of beer, and 
there was so much of respect in the manner with which she wiped the 
chair brought forward for Mr. Parsons, that the fact of his being a 
person of consequence, became notorious to all. The farmer quietly 
pushed back his chair, to follow the table, the young woman modestly 
squeezed herself very closely into the chimney-corner, and her brother 
fairly bolted, standing with eyes and mouth widely opened, to gaze at 
ease upon the distinguished society into which it had been his chance 
to fall. Mr. Parsons took his place among them, as such a great man 
ought to do. That is to say, he looked neither to the right nor to the 
left, but made himself comfortable without taking the trouble of con- 
sidering whether any other person were present, or not. Michael 
crept in after him, and when the more important part of the company 
had arranged themselves, he was observed standing alone in the most 
distant part of the room. 

"What dost stand shivering there for, my boy?" said the old 
farmer, in north-country dialect, so broad as to be dangerous for 
south-country folks to spell, " I could be after thinking there was 
some mistake here. Surely you ought not to be standing, while some 
other folks are sitting." 

This observation, though the genuine result of the old man's notions 
of vulgar, and the reverse, might not have been so bluntly spoken, 
had he not felt himself affronted by the unceremonious style in which 
his place before the fire had been taken from him. Michael probably 
did not understand the full meaning of the remark, nevertheless he 
looked dreadfully terrified, and fixed his eyes upon the back part of 
Mr. Parson's august head, his face being fortunately turned from him, 
with an expression of desperate fear, that seemed to puzzle the good 
farmer. 







. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 179 

" Well now, don't he look like as well-behaved and pretty a young 
gentleman as one would wish to see ?" continued the farmer, turning 
to the young girl, " and yet there's no mistaking that t'other's his 
master." 

" Fine feathers makes fine birds, for them as can see no farther," 
cried Parsons contemptuously, and turning one of his threatening 
scowls upon the old man. " But wait a bit, Goodman Goose, and 
you'll find out perhaps, as all is not gold as glitters." 

(i Poor little fellow 1" exclaimed the farmer, on meeting the super- 
intendent's ill-omened eye. " I wish, with all my heart, master, that 
nobody cared no more for your ugly looks than I do." 

" Dame Pritchard," said Parsons, without appearing to hear him, 
" Let the boy and me have a bit of supper, d'ye hear. Spite of his 
fine clothes, however, which were but a gift of charity, the boy is 
neither better nor worse, than one of our factory children." 

" I would not have thought it !" said the old man, apparently satis- 
fied, and turning to his mug. 

" No, I dare say," retorted Parsons, with a sneer. " Such chaps as 
you, seldom finds out what's what, or who's who, before they are told." 
From this moment no further interest was expressed about little 
Michael. He ivas a factory boy, and what good was there in asking 
any further questions ? So a thick slice of bread, and a scrap of bacon 
were set before him, and as soon as the more elaborate supper of Mr. 
Parsons was concluded, he with great affability took the little fellow 
by the hand, and preceded by Dame Pritchard and a candle, con- 
ducted him to a pallet bed in the same chamber as his own. 

For the first moment after he was left alone with the boy, the 
superintendent felt a strong inclination to make him pay for the 
affronts he had been the cause of his receiving below. But the same 
wisdom which had cut short his indignation there, checked him now ; 
and having locked the chamber door, and given Michael a stimulating 
kick to hasten his undressing, he carefully packed in a bundle the 
Dowling Lodge suit which he took off, leaving in its place beside the 
bed, the result of his hasty shoppings at Ashleigh. 

When roused from his slumbers at day-break the following morn- 
ing, Michael found these new garments ready for him, and for a 
moment his heart sunk at the change, for though new, they were of 
the very lowest kind, and formed as strong a contrast as was well 
possible with the dress he had laid aside on j preparing for his night's 
rest. But the human mind will often show symptoms of philosophy 
even at ten years old ; which truth was made evident by the manner 
in which the young apprentice invested himself in his new suit, cheer- 
ing his spirit as he did so, with the recollection that a person going to 
be bound to a trade like that of stocking-weaving, would look very 
ridiculous in such a dress as had been just taken away from him. 

Early as it was, Mrs. Pritchard was ready in the kitchen with " a 
pot of hot tea" for Mr. Parsons ; Michael received a fitting hunch of 
bread, the covered cart was brought up to the door, and the ill-matched 
pair set off again upon their journey. 

n2 



180 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



It might seem paradoxical to say, that the temper of Mr. Parsons 
was irritated by the patient, unsuspicious, and submissive demeanour 
of his helpless charge; yet such, nevertheless, was the fact. It was 
many years since the bones of Mr. Parsons had been exposed to any 
conveyance more rough and rude than Sir Matthew's jockey cart, 
which was constructed with excellent and efficient springs; the move- 
ment, therefore, of the covered vehicle which had brought his aching 
joints to the " Crooked Billet" on Ridgetop Moor, was equally un- 
wonted and disagreeable ; and now that the peaceable demeanour of 
his little companion had convinced him that it was altogether unneces- 
sary, he felt ready to twist his neck round, as an atonement for all he 
had endured. 

Ere they had advanced a mile further, however, his spirit found a 
species of consolation that was perfectly congenial to it. The drear 
dark desert that spread before them, dimly visible as far as the eye 
could reach through the chilling mist of the morning, was just such a 
region as his heart desired for the dwelling of the young plague who 
had caused him so jolting a journey ; and here too the covering of 
the rough machine was far from unwelcome, so that Mr. Parsons, as 
he drove slowly and cautiously onward amidst the deep ruts, and rum- 
bling stones, looked out upon the bleak desolation of the scene, with a 
feeling that almost approached to complacency. 

At length the moor was passed, and for a few miles their joints en- 
joyed the luxury of a turnpike-road. The country too, seemed soften- 
ing into a species of wild beauty, that might, in some degree, atone 
for its bleakness. But ere this had lasted for more than a couple of 
hours, the horse's head was again turned aside from t the main road, and 
by a steep and very rough descent, they gradually approached the level 
of a stream, running through so very narrow a valley, as in many 
places to afford barely space enough for the road, between the brook 
and the precipitate heights which shut it in. 

On reaching this level, the road, which for the last quarter of a 
mile had seemed to be leading them into the little river itself, turned 
abruptly, and by an angle so acute, following the indented curve of 
the lofty hill, that they speedily appeared to be shut in on all sides by 
the towering hills that suddenly, and as if by magic reared themselves 
in every direction round. It is hardly possible to conceive a spot 
more effectually hidden from the eyes of all men, than this singular 
valley. Hundreds may pass their lives within a few miles of it, with- 
out having the least idea that such a spot exists ; for, from the form 
of the hills it so happens, that it is possible to wander for hours over 
their summits, without discovering it ; one undulation rising beyond 
another, so as to blend together beneath the eye, leaving no opening 
by which this strip of water-level in their very centre, can be dis- 
cerned.* 

* The real name of this valley (which most assuredly is no creation of romance) 
is not given, lest an action for libel should be the consequence. The scenes which 
have passed there, and which the few following pages will describe, have been stated 
to the author on authority not to be impeached. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 181 

For about another half mile, the narrow cart-road runs beside the 
stream without encountering any single object, except its lofty barrier 
and the brook itself, more remarkable than here and there a reed of 
higher growth than common, or a plant of Foxglove, that by its gay 
blossom seems to mock the desolate sadness of the spot. Another 
turn, however, still following the wavy curvings of the mountain's 
base, for mountain there it seems to be, opens another view, and one 
that speaks to many senses at once, the difference between the melan- 
choly caused by nature, and that produced by the work of man. A 
wide spreading cotton-factory here rears its unsightly form, and at one 
glance makes the happy wanderer whose foot is free to turn which 
way he will, feel how precious is the power of retracing his steps back 
again along the beguiling path that has led him to it. 

This was a joy for which our little Michael sighed in vain. On 
jogged the cart, and nearer it came at every jolt to the object which 
he most hated to look upon. But then came also the cheering thought, 
that he was no longer a mere factory boy, but about to become an 
apprentice to a good and profitable trade, in which hereafter he might 
expect to get money enough for himself, for mother, and Teddy too ! 
Nevertheless, he certainly did wish, at the very bottom of his heart, 
that the stocking-weaving business was not carried on in a building 
so very like a cotton factory ! But though Michael saw this hated cotton 
factory, he as yet saw but a small portion of the horrors which belonged 
to the spot he had reached. His position in the vehicle made it impos- 
sible for him to look round, and perceive how completely all the acts 
that might be committed in that Deep Valley, were hid from the eye 
of every human being but those engaged in them. Neither could he 
recognise in the dismal building detached, yet connected both with the 
manager's house and the factory, the Prison Prentice-house which 
served as home to hundreds of little aching hearts, each one endowed 
by nature with light spirits, merry thoughts, and fond affections; but 
all of whom rose to their daily toil under circumstances which rendered 
enjoyment of any kind both morally and physically impossible. 

The gradations by which all the misery that awaited him was dis- 
closed, were, however, neither lingering nor uncertain. The cart 
stopped, Parsons got out, and then calling forward his companion, 
seized him roughly by the arm, and swung him through the door which 
opened to receive them. 

" Soh ! This is the chap you are going to bestow upon us, is it, 
Mr. Parsons?" said a fellow, whose aspect must have withered hope 
in the gayest spirit that youth and joy ever produced between them. 
" Has he nimble fingers?" 

" He can move 'em quick enough when he've got a mind for it," 
replied Parsons. " But you must not spare the strap, I can tell you, 
for a more obstinate hard-skinned little devil, never crossed the thres- 
hold of a factory ." 

u Never mind, Mr. Parsons, we know how to manage all those 
matters, you may depend upon it. We possess many advantages over 
you, sir. No parents here you know, to come bothering us about 



182 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

bones and bruises. Here they all count at what they are worth, and 
no more. Children is plenty, Mr. Parsons ; and that's about the best 
thing we have got in our favour ; for it can't be denied but we all of 
us, at times, finds that we have managed to complete more work than 
'tis easy to dispose of." 

" No doubt of that, Mr. Woodcomb. But you had better hand off 
the boy, if you please, and then we'll settle our little matter of busi- 
ness, and I'll be off. Your roads are none of the best, sir, and I must 
make my way back to the Crooked Billet to-night." 

" Not till you have had a bit, and a drop with us, Mr. Parsons. 
They are at supper in the Prentice-house now, and our young master 
shall be handed in at once." 

So saying, the scowling manager opened a door in the farther corner 
of the room, and made Michael a sign that he was to pass through it. 
The child obeyed, but he trembled in every joint. Feelings of deeper 
terror than had ever reached his heart before, were creeping over him. 
His lips moved not, but his very soul seemed to whisper within him, 
"Mother! Mother!" 

Yet at that moment the unhappy boy knew not what was before 
him ; the influence under which he cowered thus, was like that pro- 
duced by the leaden dimness of a coming storm upon the birds, who 
droop their pinions and seem ready to fall to the earth, even before a 
single hailstone has touched them. 

A long low passage led to another door, which was again opened by 
the condescending hand of Mr. Woodcomb ; through this he thrust the 
poor Michael, and having either by a word or a sign made known to 
the governor of the Prentice-house, that he had brought an accession 
to his wretched crew, he retired, closing the door behind him. 

Michael heard the door close, and looked up. The room he was in 
was so long as almost to appear like a gallery, and from one end to 
the other of it a narrow deal board stretched out, having room for 
about two hundred to sit down at once. The whole of this table was 
now occupied by a portion of the apprentice children, both boys and 
girls, belonging to Deep Valley Mill, and their appearance might 
have wrung the heart of any being who looked upon them, however 
blessedly wide his own destiny might lead him from the melancholy 
troop. But to Michael, the spectacle was appalling; and, young as 
he was, he seemed to feel that the filthy, half-starved wretches before 
him, were so many ghostly representations of what he was himself 
to be. A sickness like that of death came over him, and he would 
have given a limb, only for freedom to stretch himself down upon the 
floor and see no more. But the master of the ceremonies at this feast 
of misery bore a huge horsewhip in his hand, without which indeed, it 
is said, he seldom appeared on the premises, and with it an eye that 
seemed to have the power of quelling with a single glance, the will of 
every little wretch it looked upon. 

The place that Michael was to take at the board was indicated to 
him, and he sat down. The food placed before him consisted of a 
small bowl of what was denominated stir-pudding, a sort of miserable 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 183 

water-porridge, and a lump of oaten cake, of a flavour so sour and 
musty, that the little fellow, though never accustomed till the fatal 
patronage of Sir Matthew fell upon him, to any viands more dainty 
than dry bread, could not at this first essay persuade himself to eat it. 
The wife of the governor of the Prentice-house, a help meet for him in. 
every way, chanced to have her eye upon the stranger child as he 
pushed the morsel from him, and the smile that relaxed her features 
might have told him something, had he chanced to see, and understand 
it, respecting the excellent chance there was of his having a better 
appetite in future. 

A girl nearly of his own age sat on one side, and a boy considerably 
older on the other; the first who had as much of beauty as it was 
perhaps, possible for any human being to have after a six month's 
residence at Deep- Valley Mill, looked up into his face with a pair of 
large blue eyes that spoke unbounded pity, and he heard a soft little 
voice whisper, " Poor boy !" While his lanky neighbour on the other 
side made prize of the rejected food, venturing to say aloud, "Any 
how, it is too good to be wasted." 

The wretched meal did not last long, and for a few minutes after it 
was ended, the governor and his wife disappeared. During this in- 
terval, those who had strength and inclination moved about the room 
as they listed, but by far the greater number were already dropping to 
sleep after a day of protracted labour, during which they had fol- 
lowed the ceaseless movements of the machinery, for above fifteen 
hours. Among the former was the hungry lad who had appropriated 
the oat-cake of Michael, and no sooner were the eye of the master 
and mistress removed, than he turned to the new-comer, and in a tone 
that seemed to hover between good-humour and ridicule, said, " So 
you could not find a stomach for your supper, my man?" 

16 I did not w r ant supper," replied Michael, dolefully. " You did'nt 
want it, didn't you? That speaks better for the living as you have 
left, than I can speak of that as you'll find," returned his new ac- 
quaintance. " Don't you say nothing to nobody, and, to-morrow 
morning, after the lash have sounded through the room to wake us all, 
just you start up, and jump into your clothes, and when we goes to 
pump, I'll show you where we gets our tit-bits from." 

Michael was in the act of nodding assent to this proposal, when the 
woman, who live minutes before had left the room, returned to it, and 
by a very summary process caused the ragged, weary, prayerless, 
hopeless multitude to crawl and clamber, half sleeping and half wak- 
ing, to their filthy beds. They were divided by fifties in a room, but 
notwithstanding the number, and the little space in which they had to 
stow themselves, the stillness of heavy sleep pervaded every chamber, 
ere the miserable little inmates had been five minutes enclosed within 
the walls. Poor Michael lay as motionless as the rest, but he was not 
sleeping. Disappointment, fearful forebodings, and excessive nausea, 
all conspired to banish this only blessing that an apprenticed factory 
child can know. 

He had already laboured, poor fellow, for nearly half his little life, 



184 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and that under most hard and unrelenting masters; but till now, 
he had never known how very wretched his young thoughts could 
make him. His mother's fond caresses, and his brother's fervent love, 
had in spite of toil, and sometimes in spite of hunger, cheered and 
comforted the last moments of every day. The rude bed also, on which 
the brothers lay, was too clean, notwithstanding all the difficulty of 
keeping it so, to be tainted with the loathsome scent of oil, or sundry 
other abominations which rendered the place where he now lay, almost 
intolerable. Yet to this den, far, far away from the only creatures 
who loved and cherished him, he was come by his own consent, his 
own express desire ! The thought was almost too bitter to bear, and 
the bundle of straw that served him for a pillow, received for the first 
hour of the night a ceaseless flood of tears. 

It was, as his young companion had predicted, by the sound of a 
flourished whip, that he was awakened on the following morning. In 
an instant he was on his feet, and a minute or two more sufficed to 
invest him in his clothes; this speed, however, was the effect of terror, 
for he remembered not the invitation of the preceding evening. But 
hardly had he finished the operation of dressing, when Charley Ford, 
the boy who gave it, was by his side, and giving him a silent hint by 
a wink of the left eye, and a movement of the right elbow that he 
might follow him, turned away, and ran down stairs. 

Michael did so too, and presently found himself with a multitude of 
others in a small paved court, on one side of which was a pump, to 
whose spout every child came in succession to perform a very neces- 
sary, but, from lack of soap, a very-imperfect act of ablution. 

Neglecting to watch his turn for this, and not permitting Michael 
to do so either, Charles Ford made his way to a door that opened upon 
another part of the premises, and pushing it open, disclosed to the eyes 
of Michael a loathsome and a fearful spectacle. 

Seven or eight boys had already made their way to the sort of rude 
farm-yard upon which this door opened, one and all of whom were 
intent upon purloining from a filthy trough just replenished for the 
morning meal of two stout hogs, a variety of morsels which, as 
Michael's new acquaintance assured him, were " dainty eating for the 
starving prentices of Deep Valley mill." 

" Make haste, young'un," cried Charles, good-naturedly, " or they 
won't leave a turnip-paring for us." And on he rushed to the scuffle, 
leaving Michael gazing with disgust and horror at the contest between 
the fierce snouts of the angry pigs, and the active fingers of the 
wretched crew who contested with them for the offal thus cast forth. 

Michael Armstrong was a child of deep feeling ; and it was, per- 
haps, lucky for him, that the burning sense of shame and degradation 
which pervaded every nerve of his little frame, as he looked on upon 
this revolting spectacle, come upon him while yet too young for any 
notion of resistance to suggest itself. He felt faint, sick, and broken- 
hearted ; but no worm that ever was crushed to atoms by the foot of 
an elephant, dreamed less of vengeance than did poor Michael, as 
the horrid thought came over him, that he was going to abide in a 




//////' /,/.;/, 









! ;-..', A flour) . i; m- . 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG; 



185 



place where little boys were treated with less care and tenderness than 
pigs! 

He turned away shuddering, and feeling almost unable to stand — 
and then the image of his mother seemed to rise before him — he felt 
her soft gentle kisses on his cheeks, and almost unconsciously pro- 
nounced her name. This dear name, lowly as it was murmured, came 
upon his ear so like the knell of happiness that was never to return, that 
the hard agony of his little heart melted before it, and sitting down 
upon a bundle of fagots that were piled up against the wall, he rested 
his burning head against the bricks, and burst into a passion of tears. 
At this moment he felt a hand upon his shoulder, and trembling from 
head to foot, he sprung upon his feet, and suddenly turning round 
beheld, instead of the savage features of the overlooker which his fancy 
had conjured up, the meekest, gentlest, loveliest little face, that ever 
eyes looked upon, within a few feet of him. It was the same little girl 
who had been placed next him at the miserable supper of the preced- 
ing night, and whose low murmur of pity for all the sorrow he was 
come to share with her, had reached his ears and his heart. 

" You'll be strapped dreadful if you bide here," said the child. 
" Come away — and don't let them see you cry!" But even as she 
spoke she turned from him, and ran towards the door through which 
the miserable pilferers of the pig-trough were already hurrying. 

Perhaps no other warning- voice would have been so promptly list- 
ened to at that moment by poor Michael, for it was something very 
like the numbing effect of despair that seemed to have seized upon 
him, and it is likely enough he would have remained in the attitude he 
had taken, with his head resting against the wall, till the brutal vio- 
lence of his task-master had dragged him from it, had not this pretty 
vision of pity appeared to warn him of his danger. 

He rose and followed her so quickly, that by the time she had 
reached the crowd of children who were still thronging round the 
pump, he was by her side. 

" Thank you !" whispered Michael in her ear, " It was very kind of 
you to call me — and I shouldn't have come if you hadn't — for I 
shouldn't care very much if they killed me." 

" That's very naughty !" said the little girl. 

" How can I be good?" demanded Michael, while the tears again 
burst from his eyes. " 'Twas mother that made me good before, and I 
don't think I shall ever see her any more." 

" I never can see my mother any more, till I go to Heaven," replied 
the little girl — " but I always think every day, that she told me before 
she died, about God's making every thing come right in the end, if we 
bear all things patiently for love of him." 

" But God can't choose I should be taken from mother, and that's 
why I can't bear it," said Michael. 

The little girl shook her head, very evidently disapproving his 
theology. 

" How old are you ?" said Michael. 

" Eleven years old three months ago, and that was one week after I 
came here," answered his new acquaintance. 



186 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Then you are more than one whole year older than me ?" said 
Michael ; u L and I dare say you know better than I do; and I'll try to 
be good too, if you'll love me, and be kind to me always, like poor 
Edward. My name is Michael — What's your name ?" 

" Fanny Fletcher," replied the little girl, " and I will love you and 
be kind to you, if you'll be a good boy and bear it all patiently." 

" I would bear it all patiently," said Michael, " if I knew when I 
was to get away, and when you was to get away too. But perhaps 
we are to stay here for ever?" And again the tears ran down his 
cheeks. 

" That's nonsense, Michael," said Fanny. " They can't keep us 
here for ever. When we die, we are sure to get away from them." 

Michael opened his large eyes and looked at her with something 
like reproach. "When we die?" he repeated sadly. "Are we to 
stay here till we die? — I am never to see mother and Teddy any more 
then?" 

" Don't cry, Michael !" said the little girl, taking his hand — " We 
shall be sure to get out if God thinks it right. Don't cry so !" 

" I wish I was as old as you," said Michael, with an accent expres- 
sive of great respect. " I should bear it better then." 

As Michael ceased speaking he felt the little girl shudder. " Here 
he is !" she whispered, withdrawing her hand from him — " we mustn't 
speak any more now." 

" Off with you, vagabonds !" roared the voice of the apprentice- 
house governor, from behind them. " Don't you see the factory-gates 
open ?" 

The miserable little troop waited for no second summons, well 
knowing that the lash, which was now only idly cutting the air above 
their heads, would speedily descend upon them if they did ; but not 
even terror could enable the wasting limbs of those who had long in- 
habited this fearful abode, to move quickly. Many among them were 
dreadfully crippled in the legs, and nearly all exhibited the frightful 

spectacle of young features pinched by famine. 

***** 

Let none dare to say this picture is exaggerated, till he has taken 
the trouble to ascertain by his own personal investigation, that it is so. 
It is a very fearful crime in a country where public opinion has been 
proved (as in the African Slave Trade), to be omnipotent, for any in- 
dividual to sit down with a shadow of doubt respecting such state- 
ments on his mind. If they be true, let each in his own little circle, 
raise his voice against the horrors detailed by them, and these 
horrors will be remedied. But woe to those who supinely sit in 
contented ignorance of the facts, soothing their spirits and their easy 
consciences with the cuckoo note, " exaggeration," while thousands of 
helpless children pine away their unnoted, miserable lives, in labour 
and destitution, incomparably more severe, than any ever produced by 

negro slavery. 

***** 

It was with a feeling certainly somewhat akin to comfort, that 
Michael found himself thrust into the same chamber with his gentle 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 187 

little monitor, Fanny. The mules they attended, were side by side, 
and though no intercourse was permitted, that could by possibility in- 
terfere with the ceaseless labour of piecing, nevertheless, a word when 
their walk brought them near enough to each other to be heard, was 
often exchanged between the children, and the effect of this on 
Michael, was most salutary. 

Superlatively, and above all others, wretched as are the miserable 
young victims apprenticed to factory masters, it is not unusual to find 
among them some helpless creature, whose first impressions were 
received under more favourable moral circumstances, than those in 
which the pauper children of the manufacturing districts are placed. 
For it is from a distance from those unblessed regions, that the great 
majority of apprentices are furnished, and the chances are, therefore, 
greatly in favour of their having first opened their eyes amidst scenes 
of less ignorance, degradation, and suffering, than those born within 
reach of the poisonous factory influence. 

Such was the case with Fanny Fletcher. It was not till mother and 
father were both dead, that she had ceased to hear the voice of love, 
and the precepts of religion. For three years she had, indeed, been 
supported by the labour of a poor widowed mother ; but being her 
only child, Fanny had wanted nothing, had never been exposed to the 
hearing of coarse language, or the witnessing vicious habits, and all 
her little studies had been so thoroughly mixed up with religious feel- 
ings, that by the time she was ten years old, it would have been almost 
impossible to eradicate them, or rob her entirely of the gentle courage, 
and patient endurance, such feelings invariably lead to. When her 
mother died, all the world — her little world, consisting of a score of 
poor bodies of her own class, exclaimed, "Poor Fanny Fletcher !" 
But there was not one among them rich enough to save her from the 
workhouse, and to the workhouse therefore she went, whence within 
three months she was sent, with many others, as apprentices, to Deep 
Valley factory, ostensibly, and as doubtless the parish authorities be- 
lieved, to learn a good trade, but in truth, to undergo a species of 
slavery, probably the most tremendous that young children were ever 
exposed to in any part of the known world, civilized or uncivilized. 

That the desolate little creature suffered fearfully, both in body and 
mind, cannot be doubted ; yet at the time Michael first saw her, there 
was still that beautiful look of innocent patience in her eyes, which 
shows that the spirit, though bending under sorrow, is neither reckless 
nor degraded. Herself, and her companions from the workhouse to 
which she had been consigned at her mother's death, were the latest 
arrivals at Deep Valley when Michael reached it, and were still con- 
sidered by the rest of the inmates as new-comers, who did not yet 
know the full misery of incessant labour, with strength daily failing 
for want of pure air and sufficient food. Fanny was by nature a 
slight delicate little creature, with an elastic sort of vitality about her 
which seemed to set fasting at defiance. That is to say, her sweet eye 
had not yet lost its brightness, but her beautifully fair cheek was very 
pale, and her delicate limbs most deplorably thin, though they had 



188 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

not yet reached that shrunk arid wasted condition which was nearly 
general among her companions. Michael looked at her as she bent 
over her threads, and repaired the incessant breakings among them 
with her white little hands, with a degree of love and pity which 
while it wrung his heart, softened the hard despair that had nearly 
seized upon him, by making him feel, that though his mother and 
his brother were lost to him for long long years, during which he was 
to taste of nothing but misery, still there was somebody who might 
grow to love him. This was a timely solace! Young as he was, he 
perceived at once, that instead of being brought to Deep Valley to 
learn a trade, he had been beguiled to enter there bound and helpless, 
for more years than he dared to count, and with no prospect of learn- 
ing any thing beyond the same slavish process of waiting upon the 
machinery, which had painfully occupied his daily existence, and that 
of his dearer brother, as long as they could remember to have lived. 
Under these circumstances, it was truly a great blessing to have found 
somebody of whom he might make a friend, and so strongly did the 
poor little fellow feel it, that when the miserable band were led to 
their morning meal, he told Fanny as he walked beside her, that he 
thought he should grow to behave better than he had done that morn- 
ing, if she would always talk to him about good things, and let him 
talk about mother and Teddy to her in return. 

" There's a good- boy !" replied Fanny, soothingly. " I will talk to 
you, Michael, whenever I can — and never mind," she added, as they 
sat down again side by side at the long dirty board that formed their 
breakfast table, li never mind not having what's good to eat, it won't 
taste so nasty by and bye, when you grow used to it." 

" 1 won't mind it!" replied Michael, manfully, as he supped the 
musty-flavoured watery mess. " But I wish I had got a bit of good 
bread for you, Fanny !" 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



AN EXPLANATORY EPISTLE, WHICH DOES NOT PROVE SATISFACTORY 

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE, FOLLOWED BY ACTIVE MEASURES TO CAURY 
THEM INTO EFFECT A MORNING VISIT TO MRS. GABBERLY. 

During the whole of the day which followed Miss Brotherton's 
expedition to Hoxley-lane, that young lady remained waiting at home, 
not very patiently, for Sir Matthew Dowling's promised communica- 
tion. But still it came not, and when, at an hour too late to hope for 
it any longer, she at length retired to bed, it was in a state of irrita- 
tion and anxiety that left her little chance of quiet slumber. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 189 

Pale, harassed, and fearing she knew not what for the little fellow, 
for whose safety she had undertaken to answer, Miss Brotherton joined 
her good nurse at the breakfast-table, incapable of thinking or speak- 
ing upon any other subject. But it was in vain that the gentle- 
spirited Mrs. Tremlett again and again declared it to be " impossible, 
and quite out of all likelihood, that Sir Matthew should mean any 
harm by the boy;" Mary, though "weary of conjectures," could by 
no means end them by coming to the same conclusion ; nor did the 
following letter, handed to her while she still sat before her untasted 
breakfast greatly tend to tranquillize her. It was from Sir Matthew 
Dowling himself, delicately enveloped, highly scented and sealed 
with prodigiously fine armorial bearings on a shield, almost large 
enough to have adorned the panels of a carriage. But all this per- 
fection of elegance was lost on poor Mary, whose heart, indeed, seemed 
to leap into her throat, as she tore open the important despatch. It 
contained the following lines : 
" My charming Neighbour I 

" If you knew, or could at all guess, how fervently I admire the 
beautiful benevolence you have manifested, in trying to quiet the 
fidgetty spirit of poor widow Armstrong, you would be better able to 
appreciate the vexation I feel, at not yet being able fully to answer 
your inquiries concerning her boy. Think not, my dearest Miss 
Brotherton, that I neglected this business yesterday, on the contrary, 
I do assure you I gave my whole attention to it ; nevertheless, I have 
by no means succeeded in learning what you wish to know. The 
facts of the case are these. A most respectable stocking-manufac- 
turer, with whom, however, my foreman is better acquainted than 
myself, employs a multitude of young hands, most of whom are ap- 
prentices, in the different branches of his business. It was to this 
person, that the weak and wavering poor woman for whom you are 
interested, agreed to intrust her boy. Indentures were accordingly 
prepared, and I gave my superintendent orders to have the little 
fellow supplied with all necessaries, desiring that no time might be 
lost in getting him ready, as I knew that people belonging to this 
stocking-weaving establishment were likely to pass through Ashlei°-h 
in a day or two, and I wished, if ]>ossible, to avoid having the trouble 
of sending him to his destination myself. Now it unfortunately hap- 
pened, that my man, Parsons, obeyed this order much more literally 
than I intended ; for meeting in Ashleigh the persons I had named to 
him the very next day, he immediately mentioned the circumstance to 
them, and finding that they had a comfortable van, and every thin°- 
convenient with them, the whole business was arranged and done 
before I returned from a visit I had been making at Netherby. This 
was certainly being more prompt than was necessary, but it would 
have mattered little, comparatively speaking, had he not been such a 
goose as to let the van drive off, without even asking to which of the 
manufactories of the establishment it was going. Yet, although this 
is vexing, my dear Miss Brotherton, I should think it could not be 
very important. I have told Parsons to write about it immediately, 



190 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and he shall wait upon you with the information you wish for, as soon 
as he receives it. 

" Will you, my fair friend, join us in a little pionic party, projected 
by our young people for Thursday next, ' under the green-wood tree 
in Blackberry wood V Lady Clarissa is, of course, to be one of our 
society, and she will communicate all particulars respecting place 
and time. 

" Ever, my dear Miss Brotherton, 

" Very faithfully yours, 

" Matthew Dowling." 

Having read this letter to the end, she turned the sheet, and began 
a re perusal of it, without uttering a word, and when she had again 
reached its conclusion, she put it into the hands of Mrs. Tremlett, still 
without speaking a word. Before, however, that excellent, but not 
rapid lady, had got half through it, poor Mary's agitation broke 
forth— 

" What do you think of it, nurse ? for Heaven's sake, give me your 
opinion without delay ! I am quite sure, that the poor creatures in 
Hoxley-lane, whom I have beguiled with my presumptious promises, 
will pine themselves to death with this uncertainty. Tremlett! for 
mercy's sake finish reading it, and tell me what I can do more !" 

It might not have been very easy for any one to have satisfactorily 
answered this inquiry ; but the good Mrs. Tremlett was altogether 
incapable of forming any opinion worth hearing on the subject, for in 
truth she neither shared, nor fully comprehended the vague fears, that 
were tormenting her young mistress. 

Having, however, at length, despite of Mary's interruptions, con- 
trived to reach the end of the epistle, her first words were — 

" Don't, my darling Miss Mary ! — Let me beg of you to refuse at 
once. There is nothing in the whole world so dangerous and cold- 
catching, as these foolish parties on the damp grass. And besides, the 
evenings are drav/ing in now, and I'm sure" — 

f Oh ! Nurse Tremlett ! Nurse Tremlett !" interrupted Mary, more 
angry with her than she had ever been in her whole life before, " How 
can you be so cruel as to trifle thus? Why won't you try to think a 
little for me about this strange mysterious business, and give me your 
opinion ?" 

" Lord bless you, Miss Mary, if you were to kill me, I could no 
more help thinking of you first than I could fly," replied Mrs. 
Tremlett. " And, indeed, my dear, I don't see what you should put 
yourself into such a fuss for. What can you think is going to happen 
to the little boy ? You'll just spoil that poor sickly body, my dear 
child, if you encourage her in having such tantrums, because her boy 
set out upon his journey a day, may be, earlier than she expected." 

" Then you really and truly do not believe it possible, nurse, that 
Sir Matthew Dowling should have smuggled the boy away, without 
intending to let us know where he has sent him?" said Miss Bro- 
therton. 

" Good gracious, no, Miss Mary," replied her friend. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 191 

For a moment, this opinion brought some consolation with it, simply 
from the decision with which it was uttered ; but the next, all her 
anxiety returned again, for though she felt that there was, perhaps, 
something improbable and exaggerated in the idea of the child's being 
kidnapped in the face of day, and as it were before a hundred wit- 
nesses, there was at least no delusion as to his unhappy mother's state 
of mind respecting him, nor in the fact of her having in some sort 
pledged her own word, that the poor woman and her lame boy should 
receive tidings of him. 

A little further conversation with Mrs. Tremlett, convinced her that 
her opinion on the subject could be of no great value, inasmuch as it 
was founded solely on the notion, that " it was not likely, Sir Matthew 
Dowling should want to hide away the little boy." 

" No!" thought Mary. " Nor was it likely he should have acted, 
looked, and spoken as I saw him do, when his poor girl lost her senses 
from agony at my having witnessed it. If I misdoubt him unjustly, 
I will be careful that it shall not injure him. I will await his own 
time for information. If it comes, no one will be the worse for the 
impatience with which I shall have waited for it. But, if it comes not, 
I can be doing no wrong by taking every means of seeking it." 

In conformity with this resolution, Miss Brotherton not only waited 
with tolerable external composure herself, but continued in a great 
degree to tranquillize the spirits of the widow Armstrong, likewise ; 
and during a whole week, Sir Matthew Dowling was permitted to 
remain unmolested. Miss Brotherton, indeed, did not meet him 
under the greenwood-tree, pleading an indisposition, which was not 
quite imaginary, as her excuse, but she troubled him with no more 
questions. 

On the day fixed for this at fresco meeting of nearly the whole 
neighbourhood, Edward Armstrong was appointed to pay his first visit 
to Millford Park. During her almost daily visits to his mother, she 
had remarked that, though he uttered not a word in contradiction of 
the reasonings, by which she sought to show the improbability that 
any mischief could have befallen Michael, his speaking features ex- 
pressed no confidence in them, and wishing upon this day of general 
riding and driving, to remain within her own gates, she determined to 
take the opportunity of conversing with him alone. 

She was by herself in her pretty boudoir when he arrived, and per- 
ceiving that his pale face was flushed by heat and exercise, she made 
him sit down on the sofa, beside her. 

There was something singularly sad in the utter indifference with 
which his young eye wandered over all the striking and unwonted ob- 
jects that surrounded him. When bad to sit beside the young lady on 
her silken couch, he obeyed without seeming at all conscious that the 
rest he needed was now afforded in more dainty style than usual, and 
all the intelligence of his soul seemed settled in his eyes as he looked 
into the face of Miss Brotherton, and faintly murmured — 

" Is there any news of him ? " 

" No, Edward, there is not," replied Mary, firmly ; " but surely, 



192 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

my dear boy, this delay cannot justify the look of misery it produces 
on your countenance. Tell me, Edward, what is it that you fear for 
Michael !" 

" I do not know myself," replied the boy. " And yet I think it 
over in my head day and night only to find out what is the very worst 
possible they can do to him." 

" But is that wise, Edward, or is it right, think you, while your poor 
mother has only you left to comfort her, that you should only strive to 
fill your own head and hers with the very worst thoughts your fancy can 
conjure up V* 

" I do not fill mother's head with them,' , replied Edward. " I have 
never told her one single word of all my dismal thoughts." 

" Then you are a good boy, and 1 love you for it. But what are 
your dismal thoughts, Edward? You may tell them to me." 

The boy hesitated for a moment, and then said— " I think Sir 
Matthew Dowling is a wicked, cruel man ; and I think that he would be 
more likely to be wicked and cruel to Michael than good to him." 

" What is it has made you think Sir Matthew cruel and wicked, Ed- 
ward ?" demanded Miss Brotherton. 

" Because he is hard and unjust to those who labour for him — and 
because I have seen him laugh and make sport of the tears of little 
children." 

There was something in the accents of the boy that startled Mary. — 
She felt inclined to exclaim — u How much more older art thou than 
thy looks !" so thrilling was the tone, and so profound the feeling with 
which he spoke. 

" Yet still," she replied, " it is difficult to see that he could gain any 
advantage by ill-using Michael in any way bad enough to make you 
look so miserable, Edward." 

" If he keeps him from me is not that enough V said the pale boy, 
looking reproachfully at her. 

" But, Edward, you knew that he was going to leave you ; and your 
mother, at least, consented to it." 

" Yes, she did consent to it. Poor, dear mother ! She did consent 
to it. But had 1 been true, as I ought to have been, she never 
would," said Edward, clasping his hands and closing his eyes with a 
look of intense suffering. 

" Explain yourself, my dear boy," said Mary, kindly. " In what 
have you been otherwise than true V 

" We agreed together — poor Michael and me agreed together, never 
to let mother know how bad we were served at the mill — and, above 
all, we agreed that she should never know how miserable Michael was 
at the great house, 'cause we was sure she'd have him away, and so 
lose the bit of comfortable food she has been having. But it was 
wrong and wicked to deceive her. We should have told her all, and 
then Michael would have never gone !" 

" You acted for the best, my dear boy, and must not reproach your- 
self," replied Mary ; " and so far am I from thinking it wrong to keep 
her mind easy in her present state of health, that I strongly advise her 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 193 

being still comforted as much as possible by our manner of talking to 
her. Fear not, Edward, that I shall neglect the safety of Michael, 
because you will not hear me talk of his being in any danger. I will 
not rest till I know what has become of him." 

Mary said this in a tone that left no doubt of her sincerity ; and it 
was then for the first time that Edward seemed to remember her great- 
ness. He stood up before her with a look of tender reverence inexpres- 
sibly touching, and said solemnly — " Then God will bless you for it !" 
u And he will bless you, my dear child !" replied Mary, with tears 
starting to her eyes. ** He will bless and comfort you for all your 
duty and affection. Keep up your spirits, Edward, and, above all 
things, never be idle. It is for your mother's sake as well as your own 
that I am so anxious you should learn to read and write, dear Edward 
— and by degrees we shall get you on to ciphering, and who knows 
but we may make a clerk or accountant of you, and so enable you to 
get money, even if your health is not very good." 

The boy smiled languidly as he replied, " I should like it very much, 
if I was to live long enough." 

" You will get stout and well, Edward," said Mary, cheerfully, 
" now that you have no hard work to do. And you shall come up to 
the same school that all my boys and girls go to here — and when 
school is over, you must come every day to my kitchen with a little 
basket for your mother. You understand, Edward ? And once every 
week you must come up into this room to me with your books, that I 
may see your writing and hear you read a little." 

A gleam of hope and joy kindled in the boy's beautiful eyes as he 
listened to her, and a bright blush mantled his pale cheeks ; but it was 
like the flitting sunshine of April chased by a heavy cloud almost be- 
fore its warmth could be felt or its beauty seen. u Oh ! if Michael 
could but hear that !" he exclaimed, while tears, for the first since the 
conversation began, burst from his eyes. " That was what poor Mi- 
chael always wanted. If I could but learn, and so get my bread with- 
out mill-slavery, Mike always said he would not mind working himself, 
'cause he was so strong. But now that very thing is come ; and he, 
maybe, wijl never know it !" 

Heavy and fast the drops fell from beneath the hand which he had 
raised to conceal his face, till Mary, as she watched him, wept for 
company. This, however, was not the way to help him, and conquer- 
ing a weakness so every way unwise, she spoke to him with affectionate 
but steady firmness of the exertion it was his duty to make at a time 
when his mother had none but him to comfort her. She had touched 
the right string — the little fellow's nerves seemed braced, and every 
faculty awakened by the words she uttered ; and if he took back to 
his mother no tidings of poor Michael, he brought to her support a 
young spirit strong in endurance, and an intellect that, for the first 
time, had whispered to its owner hopes, promises, and aspirations, 
which seemed to make the life he had often loathed a new-found trea- 
sure to him. Mary saw not all that passed in the young mind she had 
rescued from the listless languor of despair, yet she perceived enough 



194 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to satisfy her that she had done him good, and that, however vain her 
hopes of benefiting the miserable Drakes might be, there could be no 
doubt that, in this case at least, her efforts would net prove wholly 
abortive. 

It is wonderful what an energy and renewed impetus this conviction 
gave to her spirits ! No mildew can blast more surely, or bring a more 
lamentable feeling of withering over the heart, than that caused by the 
cold and false philosophy which would check every effort to do good, 
lest, v by possibility, success might not attend it. 

The remainder of this day was by no means spent unhappily by the 
warm-hearted little heiress. The schoolmistress was made to expect 
Edward on the morrow — and the cook was made to expect Edward 
on the morrow. One Mercury was despatched to the town for 
a choice collection of slates, copies, spelling-books, and the like, 
and another to Mary's tailor in ordinary, with instructions to call on 
the widow Armstrong, and take measure of her son. All this business, 
and a good deal more tending the same way, having been satisfactorily 
got through in the course of the day that kept all the Ashleigh world 
safely entangled in the thickets of Blackberry wood, Mary Brotherton 
lay down to rest, and slept exceedingly well, though not urged thereto 
by having shared in their pleasant fatigues. 

She rose, the next morning with a sort of pleasant consciousness of 
increasing power to walk alone in this busy world, and gaily announced 
at breakfast to Mrs. Tremlett her purpose of immediately making a 
visit of speculation to Mrs. Gabberly, in order to ascertain if any gos- 
sip was yet afloat respecting the disappearance of Sir Matthew Dow- 
ling's far-famed protege. The distance from Miss Brotherton's man- 
sion to Mrs. Gabberly's cottage was not great, and the heiress traversed 
it without having any fear of officers before her eyes, or any other pro- 
tection than her parasol. 

She was, of course, received with expressions of unmitigated asto- 
nishment at her absence from the gala of the preceding day. 

" What on earth, my dear child, could have kept you away V said 
the animated lady. 

" Perhaps I was afraid of taking cold, Mrs, Gabberly. Mrs. Trem- 
lett took care I should remember how short the days are growing." 

" Mrs. Tremlett ! — Nonsense ! — Well now, I can tell you thatyou just 
lost the most delightful day that any body ever had. Such a dinner ! — 
Game of all kinds — almost all in savoury jelly too ! Think of that ! 
So wholesome, you know, with the spice ; and eating it in the open 
air, and all. Depend upon it, my dear Miss Brotherton, that if you 
suffer yourself to be boxed up by that ignorant old woman, you will 
very soon lose your health altogether. And do you know I can't help 
thinking that you do look rather feverish to-day — your eyes have that 
sort of brightness. I wish to goodness you would let me feel your 
pulse." 

" Nothing will do my pulse so much good, my dear Mrs. Gabberly, 
as your telling me all the news you heard yesterday," said the young 
lady, good-humouredly shaking the hand that was extended to ascer- 
tain her state of health. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 195 

<f Well now, my dear, I am sure I have no objection in the world to 
tell you, and certainly one does pick up a vast deal of information 
at such a party as that. Will you believe it ? two of the Simmonses 
are going to be married." 

" Really ! That's very good news, I suppose. Had you a great 
many people there ?" 

"Oh! Everybody, just every body, but your own dear self; and 
I can truly say that if you had been there, it would have been quite 
perfect !" 

" You are very kind ; but a person so very much afraid of taking 
cold, is always troublesome on these alfresco occasions. Lady Clarissa 
was there of course V 

" Of course, my dear. And such a flirtation with Sir Matthew ! 
God knows, I ain't over strict in any way ; I despise it, because it 
shows such ignorance of life and good society. But I must say, I do 
think they carry the thing a little too far. Of course, a lady of rank 
and title like Lady Clarissa, is not to be judged altogether like com- 
mon people. I am quite aware of that, and nothing can be more 
thoroughly vulgar than forgetting this. And I certainly have lived too 
much in really first-rate good society, not to know it. But, neverthe- 
less, you know, there is reason in roasting eggs, and even an earl's 
daughter may get talked of." 

" Was Lady Dowling in presence?" inquired Miss Brotherton, 
smiling. 

" No, my dear, thank God she was not, or we should have had sour 
looks with our sweetmeats, I can tell you." 

" Did Sir Matthew bring his little favourite with him ? The little 
boy he has adopted you know ?" 

" Oh ! dear, haven't you heard all that yet? Well now, upon my 
word, Mary Brotherton, it will not do, your shutting yourself up in 
this way. Catching cold, indeed ! As if I, the daughter of my own 
poor dear father, wasn't likely to know more than Mrs. Tremlett about 
catching cold ! Why, my dear, the little boy has been sent away I 
don't know how long, with a monstrous premium, paid by Sir Matthew, 
to get him entered at one of the first commercial houses in Europe. 
Dr. Crockley was exceedingly agreeable and attentive to me all day 
yesterday. And, indeed, so he was, I must say, to every body. We 
do sometimes differ about spinal complaints, and I think he is a great 
deal too speculative. But it is impossible to deny that he can be very 
agreeable when he chooses it, and it was he that told me all about this 
last noble act of Sir Matthew. To be sure he is an honour to the 
country if ever there was one, Sir Matthew, I mean. It is such men 
as that, Miss Brotherton, that brings wealth and prosperity to our 
glorious country. To think only of the hands he employs ! Fifteen 
hundred children taking all his mills together, he told us yesterday, 
besides several women and men. Oh ! it is glorious to be sure ! How- 
ever, Dr. Crockley did just whisper to me, but I don't believe he 
meant it should go much farther, he did certainly hint, that poor cross 
Lady Dowling, did not like to have the little fellow in the house, and 

o2 



196 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



that was one reason why good Sir Matthew was in such a hurry to 
place him." 

" Did you happen to hear to what part of the country the boy had 
been sent, Mrs. Gabberly?" 

" Why, no ! my dear, I can't say I did. But that makes no differ- 
ence you know. Every body is aware that it is a noble situation for 
him, and that's the main point of course." 

" Oh ! certainly. I only asked from idle curiosity. And I suppose, 
Mrs. Gabberly, that it is because I am so idle, that I do often feel 
curious about things that nobody else seems to care about. Do you 
know I am dying to get into a factory, and see all these dear little 
children at work. It must be so pretty to see them all looking so 
proud and so happy, and all enjoying themselves so much! I really 
must get a peep at it," said Miss Brotherton. 

" Law ! my dear ! What a very queer notion," replied Mrs. Gab- 
berly. 

" Perhaps it is," said Mary smiling, " as nobody else in the whole 
neighbourhood ever talks about it ; but if I have such a fancy, there 
can be no reason why I should not indulge it, can there ?" 

" Why, good gracious, my dear child ! only think of the dirt ! You 
would be downright poisoned, Mary." 

"Poisoned? How can that be, dear Mrs. Gabberly, when every 
body agrees that it is such a blessing to the country, to have brought 
such multitudes of children to work together in these factories ?'* 

*' Nonsense, my dear V' replied Mrs. Gabberly, knitting her brows. 
" This is some of Mrs. Tremlett's vulgar ignorance, I am very sure. 
How can a girl of your good understanding, Miss Brotherton, speak 
as if what was good and proper for the working classes, had any thing 
to do with such as you. Fie ! my dear ! Pray never let any body in 
the neighbourhood hear you talk in this strange wild way, I do assure 
you, that there is nothing that would do you so much injury in the 
opinion of all the first families hereabouts. And nobody knows this 
neighbourhood better than I do." 

"lam quite aware of that Mrs. Gabberly," said the young lady 
very respectfully, " and that is one reason why I wish to talk to you 
about this notion of mine. Is it really true, Mrs. Gabberly, that none 
of the ladies in the neighbourhood ever go into the factories ?" 

" To be sure it is. Why should they go, for goodness sake?" 

" Oh ! I don't know exactly. — But I cannot see why they should 
not — if they wish it," replied Miss Brotherton, modestly. 

" Well now, but I do, my dear. And I do beg and entreat that 
you won't talk any more about it. I am quite sure, Mary, that some- 
body or other has been talking nonsense to you, about all this. If you 
had got any friends or connexions towards Fairly now, I should think 
they had been telling you all the romantic stuff that has been hatch- 
ing there about factory children, and God knows what beside. But I 
don't believe you have ever gone visiting that way, have you, my 
dear?" 

" And who is there at Fairly, dear Mrs. Gabberly, who would be 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 197 

likely to talk to me on such a subject?" said Mary, colouring to the 
temples, with eagerness to hear the answer. " Good gracious ! my 
dear, did you never hear tell of that poor wrong-headed clergyman, 
George Bell ? Such a difference to be sure between one man and 
another. My dear good Mr. Gabberly never in his life breathed a 
word that could hurt the feelings of his neighbours. He visited them 
every one, and was on the best and most friendly terms with them all, 
which is what I call living in the true spirit of Christian charity. 
Whereas this tiresome, troublesome, Mr. Bell, has taken it into his 
head to find out wrong, where every body else sees nothing but right ; 
and God forbid, my dear, that you should take it into your dear innocent 
head to follow any of his mischievous fancies ; I wonder what he'll 
get by it ? Great goose he must be, to be sure, not to see that he is 
going exactly the way to set every body that can be of the least use to 
him smack against him in all things!" 

"What is it he does, Mrs. Gabberly, that is so very wrong?" de- 
manded Miss Brotherton. 

" What is it he does ? Why just every thing he ought not to do, 
my dear, that's all. You would hardly believe, perhaps, that a cler- 
gyman should actually encourage the poor to complain of the very 
labour by which they live ? And yet I give you my word and honour 
that is exactly what he has been doing. It's incredible, isn't it, al- 
most ? He positively says, loud enough for all the country to hear him, 
that the labour in the factories — such a blessing as it is to the poor — 
he actually says that it is bad for the children's health. Such stuff, 
you know, my dear, as if the medical men did not know best; and 
there's numbers of 'em that declare that it's quite impossible to tell in 
any way satisfactory that it can do 'em any harm at all. And, upon my 
word, I don't know what poor people will come to ! It's quite out of 
the question to attempt pleasing 'em. If they've got no work they are 
perfectly outrageous about that, and ready to tear people to pieces just 
to get it ; and no sooner is there enough to do, than away they go 
bawling again, swearing that the children are over-worked ; isn't it pro* 
yoking my dear?" 

" Mr. George Bell," said Mary, very distinctly. 

" Yes, my dear, that's the name of the foolish man who seems to 
take a pleasure in making people fancy they are not well enough off", 
when I'm sure, by all I can hear and understand, these very identical 
people may consider themselves first and foremost of the whole world 
for prosperity," replied Mrs. Gabberly. 

" Fairly ?" rejoined Miss Brotherton, interrogatively. 

" Yes, my dear, Fairly's where he lives, if I don't mistake." 

" Good morning, Mrs. Gabberly," said the young lady, rising some- 
what abruptly ; " I am very glad you had such a pleasant day yesterday. 
Good bye." And without permitting the stream of Mrs. Gabberly's 
eloquence to well forth upon her afresh, the heiress slipped through 
the parlour door, and escaped. 



198 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XIX. 

A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY A PLAIN STATEMENT, LEADING TO THE 

CONVICTION THAT EVEN WHERE IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS, KNOW- 
LEDGE IS NOT ALWAYS HAPPINESS A HASTY FRIENDSHIP THAT MAY 

NEVERTHELESS PROVE LASTING. 

To order the carriage, and to give Mrs. Tremlett notice that she 
wished her to make all speed in preparing to accompany her in it, was 
to Miss Brotherton the work of a moment. As the business she was 
upon might, however, take some hours, she urged her old friend to eat 
luncheon as if certain of having no dinner ; and having given time for 
this, and interrogated her coachman concerning distance and so forth, 
the hopeful, animated girl, sprung iuto her carriage as the clock struck 
two, determined not to re-enter her mansion till she had lost some por- 
tion of the ignorance which had of late so cruelly tormented her. 

The roads were good, and by the help of a short bait, Miss Brother- 
ton and her companion reached Fairly turnpike a little after four. 
Here she made inquiries for the residence of Mr. Bell, and having 
learned in what direction she should find it, repeated the instructions 
to her coachman, and bade him drive on. 

" Are the horses to be put up there, ma'am?" demanded the coach- 
man. 

" Yes — no, James, not there I suppose — that is, not at the clergy- 
man's house ; but of course you will be able to find some place quite 
near, you know ; and William must wait — no, not wait, but come back 
as soon as he knows where you put up, that I may send for you when I 
am ready." 

To these, not over-clear, instructions James answered " Yes ma'am," 
and drove off. 

In obedience to the directions received at the ton-bar, the carriage 
soon left the high-road, and proceeded down a grassy lane, which 
harvest carts for the time had rolled into smoothness. Less than a 
quarter of a mile of this, brought the wanderers to another turning, 
that in five minutes placed them before the gates of an edifice the 
aspect of which made Mary pull the check-string. 

"That looks like a parsonage-house! Does it not?" said Miss 
Brotherton. 

And before Mrs. Tremlett could answer/William had already opened 
the door, and let down the steps. It was very easy to get out, and 
very easy to inquire if Mr. Bell were at home ; but when answered in 
the affirmative, Miss Brotherton felt that it was not very easy to decide 
in what manner to explain the cause of her visit to the object of it. 
She had by no means settled this point to her satisfaction, when the 
door of a small parlouv, lined with books, was opened to her, and she 
found herself in the presence of the gentleman she had so unceremo- 
niously come to visit. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 199 

There was much in the countenance of Mr. Bell to reassure a more 
timid spirit than that of Mary Brotherton ; nevertheless she stood be- 
fore him for a minute or two in some embarrassment, not so much from 
fear of him, as of herself. Did she fail to make him at once under- 
stand the motive of her inquiries, he could not avoid thinking both 
them and herself impertinent, and this consciousness caused a muck 
brighter glow than usual to mantle her cheeks, as she stood before 
him, with her eyes fixed timidly, and almost beseechingly, on his 
face. 

Although Miss Brotherton had not quite the easy and ftant soit 
pen J assured air of a woman of fashion, there was enough in her 
appearance to indicate her claim to observance, as well as admiration, 
and Mr. Bell opened the conversation by earnestly requesting that she 
would sit down. 

His aspect had done much towards giving her courage, and his 
voice did more. 

" You are very kind sir," said she, " to receive so courteously a 
stranger, who has in truth no excuse whatever to offer for thus intrud- 
ing on you. Nevertheless, I am greatly tempted to hope, that if I 
can succeed in making you understand the object of my visit, you will 
forgive the freedom of it." 

" And I," returned Mr. Bell, smiling, " am greatly tempted to be- 
lieve that let the object of this visit be what it may, I must always feel 
grateful to it. Is there any thing, my dear young lady, that I can do to 
serve you ?" 

" There is indeed, Mr. Bell !" she replied, with great earnestness of 
voice and manner. " I am come to you for instruction. Though you 
do not know me, you probably may know the place at which I live. 
My name is Mary Brotherton, and my house is called Millford Park." 

" Certainly, Miss Brotherton, both your name, and that of your 
residence are known to me — on what subject can 1 give you any in- 
formation that may be useful V* 

" Circumstances, Mr. Bell, have lately directed my attention to a 
subject which my own situation in life, as well as the neighbourhood in 
which I live ought to have long ago made thoroughly familiar to me — 
such is not the case, however ; I am profoundly, and I fear shamefully 
ignorant respecting the large and very important class of our popula- 
tion employed in the factories. I am in possession of a large fortune 
wholly amassed from the profits obtained by my father from this species 
of labour, and I cannot but feel great interest in the welfare and pro- 
sperity of the people employed in it — especially as I understand a very 
large proportion of them are young children — and moreover, that 
from some cause or other, which I can by no means understand, the 
whole class of ' the factory people,' as I hear them called, are spoken 
of with less kindness and respect by those who have grown rich upon 
their industry, than any other description of human beings whatever. 
I am told, sir, that it would be unsafe, improper, and altogether wrong 
were I to attempt making myself personally acquainted with them, as 
I would wish to do — and having accidentally, Mr. Bell, heard your 



200 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

name mentioned as a person who took an interest in their concerns, I 
have come to you thus unceremoniously, in the hope that you would 
have the kindness to give me more accurate information on the subject, 
than I have found it possible to obtain elsewhere. " 

Mr. Bell, who had placed himself immediately opposite to her, looked 
in her young face, and listened to her earnest voice as she spoke, with 
the deepest attention. It soon became sufficiently clear that he con- 
sidered not this intrusion as requiring apology, but that on the con- 
trary his very heart and soul were moved by her words. He paused 
for a moment after she had ceased speaking, as if unwilling to inter- 
rupt her by his reply ; but when he found that she remained silent, he 
said, 

" The subject on which you are come to converse with me, my dear 
Miss Brotherton, is assuredly the very last I should have expected to 
hear named by a young lady in your position — for it is one from which 
the rich and great of our district turn away with loathing and contempt. 
Yet is it the one of all others to which I would if possible direct their 
best attention, involving as it does both their interest and their duty be- 
yond any other. But I fear I cannot enter upon it without wounding 
many prejudices which of necessity you must have imbibed, and prov- 
ing to you that much which doubtless you have been educated to con- 
sider right, is on the contrary most lamentably wrong. Can you bear 
this my dear young lady ?" 

" I hope I could, in a search after truth, Mr. Bell, even if my mind 
were in the condition you suppose," replied Mary. " But this is not 
the case. You will not have to remove many false impressions I think. 
— It is the total absence of all knowledge on the subject, which I am 
bold enough to ask you to remedy." 

" And most willingly will I endeavour to do so, to the very best of 
my ability," replied Mr. Bell. — " But to me it is a beguiling subject, 
and if I detain you too long, you must tell me so." 

" Fear not," replied Mary, smiling. " I shall be more willing to 
hear, than you to speak." 

" You are of course aware, Miss Brotherton," resumed the clergy- 
man, " that the large proportion of young labourers to whom you have 
just alluded, are calculated to amount, in Yorkshire and Lancashire 
alone to upwards of two hundred thousand." 

" Is it possible ?" exclaimed Mary. " Alas ! Mr. Bell you must not 
think that ' of course I know any thing- — had you named two thousand 
as the number, my surprise would have been less." 

" But so it is, Miss Brotherton. Above two hundred thousand young 
creatures, including infants among them, counting only five years of 
life, are thus employed in the counties I have named ; and they surely 
form a class, which both from their numbers, and their helplessness are 
entitled to English sympathy and protection ?" 

" Unquestionably!" cried Mary, eagerly, " I always feel that the 
labouring poor have great and unceasing claims upon the sympathy 
and assistance of the rich. — But this claim must be equally great I 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 201 

should suppose amongst all the labouring classes. Is it not, Mr. 
Bell?" 

" I feel it difficult to answer your question by a negative," he re- 
plied, " because, taken in its broadest sense, it most assuredly demands 
an affirmative. Nevertheless it is unquestionably true that at this 
moment there is no race of human beings in any portion of the known 
world — the most wretched of negro slaves not excepted, Miss Brother- 
ton — who require the protection and assistance of their happier fellow- 
creatures, in the same degree as the young creatures employed in our 
factories." 

Miss Brotherton looked at him, not doubtingly, but with consider- 
able surprise, and timidly replied, " But the negro slave, Mr. Bell, has 
no choice left him — he is the property of his master." 

" Neither has the factory child a choice, Miss Brotherton. He too 
is a property, nor is it the least horrible part of the evil which noise- 
lessly has grown out of this tremendous system, that the beings whom 
nature has ordained throughout creation to keep watch and ward over 
the helpless weakness of infant life, are driven by it to struggle with, 
and trample down the holiest and dearest of human ties — even the love 
of a parent for its offspring. Picture to yourself a bleak winter's morn- 
ing, Miss Brotherton, when the mother of factory children must be up 
hours and hours before the sun to rouse her half-rested little ones ; and 
nervously watching her rude clock till the dreaded moment comes, must 
shake the little creatures, whose slumber the very beast of the field 
might teach her to watch over and guard, till they awake, and starting 
in terror from their short sleep, ask if the hour be come ? The wretched 
mother, and the wretched child then vie with each other in their trem- 
bling haste to seize the tattered mill-clothes, and to put them on. The 
mother dreads the fine of one quarter of the infant's daily wages, which 
would be levied, should it arrive but a minute too late, and the poor 
child dreads the strap, which, in addition, is as surely the punishment 
for delay. Miss Brotherton, I have seen with my own eyes the as- 
sembling of some hundreds of factory children before the still unopened 
doors of their prison-house, while the lingering darkness of a winter's 
night had yet to last three hours. I shall never forget one bitter morn- 
ing, last January twelvemonth ! The last piteous summons from a 
dying parishioner had left me no choice but to exchange my pillow for 
the bitter biting blast of Howley- common, and the path across it lead- 
ing me within a hundred yards of a large cotton-factory, I witnessed a 
spectacle, which to my dying day I shall never recall without a shud- 
der! There was just moon enough to show me all the dreary sternness 
of the scene. — The ground was covered deep with snow, and a cutting 
wind blew whistling through the long line of old Scotch firs which 
bordered an enclosure beside the road. As I scudded on beneath them, 
my eye caught the little figures of a multitude of children, made dis- 
tinctly visible, even by that dim light, by the strong relief in which their 
dark garments showed themselves against the snow. A few steps 
further brought me in full view of the factory gates, and then I per- 
ceived considerably above two hundred of these miserable little victims 



202 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to avarice all huddled together on the ground, and seemingly half 
buried in the drift that was blown against them. I stood still and 
gazed upon them — I knew full well what, and how great was the terror 
which had brought them there too soon, and in my heart of hearts I 
cursed the boasted manufacturing wealth of England, which running, in 
this direction at least, in a most darkened narrow channel, gives power, 
lawless and irresistible to overwhelm and crush the land it pretends to 
fructify. While still spell-bound by this appalling picture, I was 
startled by the sound of a low moaning from the other side of the road, 
at a short distance from me, and turning towards it perceived a woman 
bending over a little girl who appeared sinking to the ground. A few 
rapid steps brought me close to them, and I found on examination that 
the child was so benumbed and exhausted as to be totally incapable of 
pursuing her way— it was her mother who was urging her forward, and 
who even then seemed more intent upon saving a fine, than on the ob- 
vious sufferings of her sinking child. I know, poor wretch, that little 
choice was left her, and that the inevitable consequence of saving her 
from the factory, and leading her gently home to such shelter as her 
father's roof could give, would be to watch her perish there for want of 
food." 

" Alas ! alas ! is it thus my wealth has been accumulated V 9 ex- 
claimed Miss Brotherton, shuddering. " Is there no power in Eng- 
land, sir, righteous and strong enough to stay this plague V 9 

" Miss Brotherton!" returned the clergyman, " such power, and 
such righteousness, must be found, or this plague, as you well call it, 
will poison the very life blood of our political existence ; and long ere 
any serious danger is likely to be dreamed of by our heedless rulers, 
the bloated wealth with which this pernicious system has enriched a few, 
will prove a source of utter destruction to the many. Never, my dear 
young lady, did the avarice of man conceive a system so horribly de- 
structive of every touch of human feeling, as that by which the low- 
priced agony of labourine infants is made to eke out and supply all 
that is wanting to enable the giant engines of our factories to out-spin 
all the world ! But you must see it, Miss Brotherton, you must watch 
it with your own eyes, you must follow the hateful operations of this 
atrocious system into the thousands of sordid and forgotten huts which 
cover its miserable victims, ere you can possibly understand its moral 
mischief. There is no strength, no power in words to paint it." 

" Its moral mischief," said Mary, eagerly ; " explain that to me, 
Mr. Bell, for it is the point I find most puzzling — why is it that these 
poor factory-people, because they labour more unremittingly, as it should 
seem, than all the world beside, why, for this reason, instead of being 
honoured for their industry, are they invariably spoken of with con- 
tempt and obliquy ?" 

" Your question, Miss Brotherton, involves by far the most terrible 
portion of this frightful commercial mystery," he replied ; " but, as I 
have told you, nothing except personal investigation can enable the 
inquirer to arrive at the whole truth respecting it. Were a patient, ac- 
curate, and laborious detail of all the enormities committed, and all the 







7, ///// 



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/ 









iiiir i in-/' — — ■ ■»***■ 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 203 

sufferings endured, under the factory system, to be presented to the 
public, it would be thrown aside by some, as greatly too tedious for 
examination, and by others as a statement too atrocious to merit be- 
lief. Yet, England must listen to it, and that soon, or she may mourn 
her negligence when it is too late to repair it. That marvellous ma- 
chinery of which we make our boast, Miss Brotherton, is not more per- 
fect in its power of drawing out the delicately attenuated thread which 
it is our glory to produce, then the system for reducing the human 
labour necessary for its production to the lowest possible price is, for 
degrading the moral nature of the helpless slaves engaged in it." 

" That the system has such a tendency I cannot doubt, after the re- 
peated assurances which have reached me, that so it is," replied Mary. 
" Nevertheless, I am still unable to comprehend why it should be so." 

" You have only to take advantage of your residence near Ashleigh, 
Miss Brotherton, the dense population of which subsists almost wholly 
by factory labour, in order to understand, but too well, why this ter- 
rible result is inevitable. You are as yet too young a lady for me to 
expect that you should have very deeply studied the nature of the 
human mind, or made yourself fully aware how greatly the habits and 
character of all human beings depend upon education, and the circum- 
stances in which they are placed. Nevertheless, if you turn your at- 
tention to the subject, you will not, young as you are, be long inca- 
pable of detecting the dangers which beset the hearts and souls of 
those whose unhappy destiny have made them factory labourers. The 
dark little circle in which they move from birth to death, from father 
to son, from mother to daughter, is so uniform, that almost any ave- 
rage individual case may fairly serve as a specimen of the whole class. 
Boys and girls, with few exceptions, labour indiscriminately altogether 
in the factories. While still almost children, they form connexions, 
and are married. Having worked in the mills, probably from five 
years old to the hour of their unweighed and thoughtless union, the 
boy assumes the duties of a husband with little more knowledge of 
moral or religious responsibility than the brute animal that labours 
with a thousand times less degradation in the fields ; while the childish 
wife comes to her important task ignorant of every earthly usefulness, 
save what belongs to the mechanical drudgery in which throughout the 
whole of her short, sad life, she has been made to follow the uniform 
and ceaseless movements of machinery. She cannot sew, she cannot 
cook, she cannot iron, she cannot wash. Hermindisyet more untaught 
and undisciplined than her hands. She is conscious of no responsibility, 
she knows no law by which to steer her actions, or regulate her spirit, 
and becomes a mother as she became a wife, without one single 
thought of duty mixing itself with her increasing cares. By degrees, 
both the husband and the wife find employment in the factory less 
certain. It is for children, children, children, that the unwearied engine 
calls, and keenly does the hungry father, and the mother too, watch the 
growth of the little creatures to whom they have given birth, till the- 
slight limbs have firmness enough to stand, and the delicate joints are 
sufficiently under the command of the frightened will to tie threads 



204 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

together under the potent inspiration of the overlooker's strap. Then 
comes a state of deeper degradation still. The father is idle, for often 
he can get no woik, and it is to the labour of his little ones that he 
looks for bread. Nature recoils from the spectacle of their unnatural 
o'erlaboured aspect as they return from their thirteen, fourteen, fif- 
teen, hours of toil. He has not nerve to look upon it, and creeps to 
the gin-shops till they are hid in bed. The mother sees it all, and 
sternly screws her courage to the task of lifting their bruised and 
weary limbs upon their bed of straw, putting into their mouths the food 
she has prepared, their weary eyes being already closed in sleep, and 
preparing herself to wake before the sun on the morrow, that with un- 
relenting hand she may drag them from their unfinished slumber, and 
drive them forth again to get her food. This is no varnished tale, Miss 
Brotherton, but the bare, naked, hideous truth. And can you wonder 
that beings thus reared and ripened should form a degraded class 1 
Can you wonder that all others should turn from them, as from a race 
with whom they have nothing in common ? If some sad accident, 
preceding birth, disturbs the beautiful process by which nature prepares 
the noble being she has made to be lord of all, and an abortive crea- 
ture comes to life, curtailed of all its fair proportions, botH of mind 
and body, all within reach of the hapless prodigy shudder as they 
mourn, and the best and wisest among them pray to God that its span 
of life be short. But believe me when I tell you, Miss Brotherton, 
that the effect which the factories of this district is producing upon 
above two hundred thousand of its population, is beyond all calcula- 
tion more deplorable, and many a child is born amongst them whose 
destiny, if fairly weighed against that of such a one as I have described, 
would appear incomparably more terrible." 

'* Can such things be, and the rulers of the land sit idly by to wit- 
ness it?" cried Mary shuddering. 

" It seems as if the rulers of the land knew little, and cared less 
about it," replied Mr. Bell. "The profoundly ignorant opinion that 
there is some connexion between our national prosperity, and the 
enormous fortunes amassed by some score of North-country manufac- 
turers has, I believe, produced much of the lamentable non-interfer- 
ence of which the disinterested few complain, who are near enough 
to look upon the frightful game. Some individual voices have been 
most gloriously raised on this tremendous theme, and if they will 
be steadfast and enduring, they must and will prevail — for human na- 
ture, with all its vices, is not framed to look coldly on such horrors, 
and permit them. But the remedial process is so slow — it is so diffi- 
cult to arouse the attention, and awaken the feelings of busy men con- 
cerning things at a distance, whose connexion with all that they deem 
important they are too ignorant of, or too preoccupied to trace, that the 
keenest observers, and those who would the most deeply deprecate any 
remedy but a legal one, begin to fear that mercy will be clamoured for 
with very dangerous rudeness, before the parliament of England shall 
have roused up its wisdom to the task of affording it. 

" And in what way, Mr. Bell, is it wished, or hoped, that the legis- 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 206 

lature should step forward to cure this dreadful evil ? Is it proposed 
to abolish the use of machinery T 

Mr. Bell smiled, and shook his head. 

" You perhaps think," said he, " that there is a great disproportion 
between my strong sense of the vice and suffering produced by the 
factory system, and the measure for its mitigation to which I now limit 
almost my wishes. But it would be vain to look back to the time when 
steam engines were not, and there would indeed be little wisdom in 
addressing our lamentations to their introduction. It is not the acqui- 
sition of any natural power, principle, or faculty, that we should de- 
plore; all such, on the contrary, should be hailed as part and parcel 
of our magnificent birthright, and each new use we learn to make of 
the still much-unknown creation around us, ought to be welcomed with 
a shout of praise, as a fresh fulfilment of the supreme command 
' replenish the earth and subdue it/ It is not from increased, or in- 
creasing science that we have any thing to dread, it is only from a 
fearfully culpable neglect of the moral power that should rule and re- 
gulate its uses, that it can be other than one of God's best gifts." 

H But how," demanded Mary, " how, if machinery continues to be 
used, can any Act of Parliament prevent the necessity of employing 
children to wait upon its operations, instead of requiring the strength 
of men, as heretofore, to perform what the steam-engine does in their 
place ?" 

" No Act of Parliament can be conceived capable of inducing a 
manufacturer to employ the weaker, and at the same time the more 
costly agent, in preference to a more powerful and cheaper one," re- 
plied Mr. Bell. li No reasonable man would ask this, no rea- 
sonable man would desire it, and assuredly no reasonable man 
would attempt to enforce such an absurdity by law. No, Miss Bro- 
therton, this mighty power, as surely given for our use as is the 
innocent air that fans the woodbine yonder, has at length, after 
some few thousand years of careless overlooking on our part, been 
revealed to us. But let us not fly in the face of benignant nature, 
and say like Caliban, 

" You taught me language ; and my profit on't 
Is, I know how to curse." 
" If used aright the recannot be a doubt that this magnificent power 
might, in all its agencies, be made the friend of man. It requires no 
great stretch of ingenuity to conceive that it might be rendered at once 
a source of still increasing wealth to the capitalist, and of lightened 
labour to the not-impoverished operative. But that, as things are at 
present, this great discovery, and all the admirable ingenuity with 
which it is applied, acts as a ban instead of a blessing, upon some 
hundred thousands of miserable victims is most true, while all the benefit 
that can be shown as a balance to this horror, is the bloated wealth of 
a small knot of master- manufacturers. But so monstrous is this evil, 
that its very atrocity inspires hope, from the improbability that when 
once beyond all reach of contradiction its existence shall be known 
by all men, it should be permitted to continue." 



206 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Then why is it not known V 9 demanded Mary, her colour height- 
ened as she remembered her own entire ignorance upon the subject 
a few short weeks before, " surely it is the duty of all lookers-on to 
proclaim it to the whole world." 

" Alas ! Miss Brotherton ! It is more easy to raise a voice, than to 
command attention to it. Loud and long must be the cry that shall 
awaken the indifferent, and rouse the indolent to action. But this 
loud, long cry, will be uttered, and by the blessing of God it will be 
listened to at last." 

" But tell me Mr. Bell," resumed his deeply interested auditor, 
"what is this moderate enactment in mitigation of these wretched 
people's sufferings, which you say would content you V 

" All that we ask for," replied Mr. Bell, " all that the poor crea- 
tures ask for themselves, is that by Act of Parliament it should be 
rendered illegal for men women and children to be kept to the weary- 
ing unhealthy labour of the mills for more than ten hours out of 
every day, leaving their daily wages at the same rate as now." 

" And would that suffice," demanded Miss Brotherton with astonish- 
ment, " to effectually relieve the horrors you have been describing to 
me?" 

" Miss Brotherton it would," replied the clergyman. e< I would 
be loath to weary you with details," he continued, " but a few items 
may suffice to make you see how enormous are the benefits which 
would follow such an enactment. At present, if a large demand for 
manufactured goods arises, instead of being, as it ought, a blessing to 
the industrious hands that must supply it, it comes upon them as a 
fearful burden, threatening to crush the very springs of life in the 
little creatures that are chiefly to sustain it, while the golden harvest 
that it brings is not for them, but for their masters. For the miserable 
meed of an extra penny, or sometimes three- halfpence a day, the 
young slaves (who, observe, have no power of choice, for if they, or 
their parents for them, refuse, they are instantly turned off to literal 
starvation — no parish assistance being allowed to those who resist the 
regulations of the manufacturers), for this wretched equivalent for 
health and joy, are compelled, whenever our boasted trade flows 
briskly, to stand to their work for just as many hours as the application 
of the overlooker's strap, or billy-roller, can keep them on their legs. 
Innumerable instances are on record of children falling from excess of 
weariness on the machinery, and being called to life by its lacerating 
their flesh. It continually happens that young creatures under fifteen 
years of age, are kept from their beds all night. Fifteen, sixteen, 
seventeen, hours of labour out of the twenty-four, are cases which 
recur continually, and I need not say with what effect upon these vic- 
tims of ferocious avarice. Now not only would all this be mended, the 
positive bodily torture spared, and as far as is consistent with constant 
in-door occupation, the health of the labourers preserved, were it made 
unlawful to keep them at positive labour for more than ten hours of every 
day ; not only would all this follow from the enactment, but innu- 
merable other advantages, some of them more important still, would, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, 207 

beyond all question, be its consequence. In the first place, were there 
no power of executing great and sudden orders by irregular exactions 
of labour, the recurrence of those fearful intervals when the starving 
operatives are thrown out of employ by the accidents which cause a 
deficiency in the demand, would not happen — for in that case the 
capitalists would find themselves obliged to be beforehand with the de- 
mand, even though some portion of their enormous wealth should for 
a time lie idle. From this would also follow the necessity of often 
employing adult hands, where now the cheaper labour of children, forced 
from their very vitals through the day and night, may be had for the sin of 
demanding it. Then would the unnatural spectacle of a stalwart 
father idly waiting to snatch the wages from the little feverish hand of his 
o'er-laboured child be seen no more. Then would there be strength 
and spirits left in the young to profit by the Sunday-schools now so 
often ostentatiously opened in vain, because the only way in which a little 
piecer can keep holiday is by lying throughout the day stretched upon 
his straw in heavy sleep. Then too, the demoralizing process by which 
the heart of a mother is rendered hard as the nether mill-stone, by the 
necessity of goading her infants to their frightful toil, would cease. 
Boys and girls would no longer have to return to their homes at 
midnight — there would be time and inclination then, for those com- 
fortable operations of the needle and the shears, which 

' Make old clothes look amaist as weel as new.' 

Then would not the disheartened ministers of God's church strive in 
vain to make the reckless, joyless, worthless race listen to his words of 
faith and hope. Then, Miss, Brotherton, they would arise from that 
state of outcast degradation which has caused your friends to tell you 
that it would be ' unsafe, improper, and altogether wrong/ for you, 
and such as you, to make personal acquaintance with them." 

" And do you really think all this mighty, this glorious good, 
would follow from an enactment so moderate, so reasonable, so every 
way unobjectionable ?" 

" I have not the slightest shadow of a doubt, Miss Brotherton, that 
such good would follow it, and more, much more, than I have named 
— more than any one could believe or comprehend, who has not, like 
myself, been watching for years the misery, the vice, the degradation, 
which have resulted from the want of it." 

" Then why, Mr. Bell, have not such representations been made to 
the legislature as must ensure its immediate adoption?" 

The good clergyman shook his head. l( It is a most natural, question, 
my dear young friend — allow me so to call you. All are my friends who 
feel upon this subject as you appear to do. It is a most natural and a most 
obvious question. Yet would my reply be any thing rather than easy of 
comprehension were I to attempt to answer it directly. I sincerely hope 
I shall converse with you again on this subject. Documents are not want- 
ing, my dear Miss Brotherton, to prove that all, or nearly all, that pri- 
vate individuals can do, in the way of petition and remonstrance, has 
been already tried ; nor are we yet without hope that good may come 
of it. But it must be long, and perhaps the longer the better, ere 



208 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

your young head and innocent heart, can conceive our diffi- 
culties. You would hardly believe the ingenious devices to which 
frightened avarice can have recourse in order to retard, mutilate, 
and render abortive a measure having for its object a reduction 
of profits, with no equivalent save the beholding smiles instead 
of tears, and hearing the sounds of song and laughter instead 
of groans !" 

" But while you are still waiting and hoping for this aid from our 
lawgivers," said Mary, " is there nothing that can be done in the in- 
terval to help all this misery, Mr. Bell V y 

" Nothing effectual, my dear young lady," he replied mournfully. 
" I may, with no] dishonest boasting say, that my life is spent in 
doing all I can to save these unhappy people from utter degradation 
and despair. But the oppression under which they groan is too over- 
whelming to be removed, or even lightened, by any agency less power- 
ful than that of the law. Nothing, in fact, can so clearly show the 
powerful oppression of the system as the total inefficiency of individual 
benevolence to heal the misery of those who suffer under it. Its power 
is stupendous, awful, terrible ! Nature herself, elsewhere so omnipo- 
tent, here feels the strength of unchecked human wickedness, and 
seems to bend before it. For most certain is it, that in less than half 
a century, during which the present factory system has been in opera- 
tion, the lineaments of the race involved in it are changed and deterio- 
rated. The manufacturing population are of lesser and of weaker growth 
than their agricultural countrymen. The development of the intellectual 
faculties is obviously becoming weaker, and many whom we have every 
reason to believe understand the physiology of man as thoroughly as 
science can teach it to them, do not scruple to assert, that if the pre- 
sent system continues, the race of English factory operatives will 
dwindle and sink in the strongly-graduated scale of human beings, to 
something lower than the Esquimaux." 

" Gracious Heaven !" cried Mary, clasping her hands with an 
emotion that almost amounted to agony, " and all these, horrors are 
perpetrated for the sake of making rich, needlessly, uselessly rich, a 
few obscure manufacturing families like my own ! This is very dread- 
ful sir/' she continued, while tears burst from her eyes. " I have 
gained knowledge but not peace by my visit, and I must leave you 
with the sad conviction that the hope I had nourished of making my 
fortune useful to the suffering creatures among whom I live, is vain 
and idle." 

Mr. Bell listened to this melancholy assertion, and sighed because 
he could not contradict it. " Yes ;" said he, at length, " it is even so ; 
and if any proof were wanted of the depth and hopelessness of the 
wretchedness which the present system produces, it might be found in 
the fact, that despite the inclination I feel both for your sake, and that 
of the poor operatives, to encourage your generous benevolence, I can- 
not in conscience tell you that it is in your power effectually to assist 
them. That you may save your own excellent heart from the palsy of 
hopeless and helpless pity, by the indulgence of your benevolence in 
individual cases of distress, I need not point out to you ; but that any 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 209 

of the ordinary modes of being useful on a larger scale, such as 
organising schools, founding benefit societies, or the like, could be of 
any use to beings so crushed, so toil-worn, and so degraded, it would 
be idle to hope." 

Miss Brotherton now rose to depart — but as she extended her hand, 
and began to utter her farewell, it occurred to her that it was possible 
her new friend might, by conjecture at least throw some light upon the 
destination of little Michael, and avoiding as much as possible the 
making any direct charge against her rich neighbour, she briefly nar- 
rated the facts of Michael's adoption, dismissal, and unknown desti- 
nation, with little commentary on either, but concluded by saying, 

" The mother of the child is in great anxiety about him, and though 
I cannot conceive it possible any harm can have befallen the boy, I am 
in some sort a fellow-sufferer with her in the anxiety which this 
mystery occasions, from having almost pledged myself to learn the 
place of his destination. Can you, dear sir, suggest to me any means 
by which this information can be obtained V 

" Some part of this history has reached us already/' replied Mr. 
Bell, " It has been somewhat industriously bruited through the neigh- 
bourhood, that Sir Matthew Dowling, notoriously one of the most 
tyrannical millocrats in the whole district, has been moved to kindness 
in behalf of some poor widow's son, and taken him to be reared and 
educated with his own children — I trust I am excusable, knowing what 
I know, for misdoubting the disinterested benevolence of any act of 
Sir Matthew Dowling's. Nevertheless it is certainly not easy to per- 
ceive why, after having so ostentatiously distinguished the boy, he should 
kidnap him, as it were, from his own house, in order to get rid of him. 
If, instead of being the object of especial favour, the little fellow had 
fallen under the rich knight's displeasure, Miss Brotherton, I should 
think it by no means improbable that he might have consigned him as 
an apprentice to some establishment, too notorious for its severity to 
make it desirable that his selection of it should be made known. But 
of this there seems neither proof nor likelihood." 

Miss Brotherton turned pale as she listened to this suggestion. 
" Nay, but there is both truth and likelihood in such a suspicion," she 
exclaimed with considerable emotion, and after a moment's considera- 
tion, added, " I know no reason why I should conceal the cause I have 
for saying so — if you know not all, how can you give me counsel ?" 

Hurriedly, and as briefly as possible, Miss Brotherton then recounted 
the scene she had witnessed in the green-room of the Dowling- 
lodge theatricals, but there was an unconscious and involuntary fer- 
vour in her manner of narrating it, which rendered it impossible to listen 
with indifference, or not to feel at the recital some portion of the in- 
dignation she had felt when it occurred. 

" It must be looked to, Miss Brotherton," replied her warm-hearted 
new acquaintance. " The boy must be traced, tracked, found, and 
rescued. I think there are few of these wretched prison-houses of 
whose existence I am ignorant, and it is probable 1 may be able to 
help you in this. Should I obtain any hint likely to be useful in the 

p 



210 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

search, I will call upon you, if you will give me leave, to communi- 
cate it." 

Most earnestly and truly did the heiress assure him that it was im- 
possible she could receive a visit more calculated to give her pleasure, 
adding that whether the hint were obtained or not, she trusted the ac- 
quaintance she had so unceremoniously began, would not drop here 
and that by returning her visit, he would prove to her that he was not 
displeased by it. 

It rarely happens between right-hearted people who meet for the 
first time, if one of the parties conceives a liking for the other, that it 
fails to prove mutual ; and it was with a cordial sincerity, as genuine 
as her own, that Mr. Bell expressed his hope that their acquaintance 
would ripen into friendship. 

Too intently occupied by all that had passed, to remember her own 
arrangements, Mary forgot that her carriage was not at the door, and 
while these parting words were exchanged, walked forth, expecting to 
find it. It was Mrs. Tremlett who first recollected that the coachman 
had been ordered to put up his horses at the nearest inn, but this was not 
till they had traversed the little garden, and were already in the lane ; 
for though the good nurse had been little more than personnage muet 
during the foregoing scene, she had taken a deep interest in it, and it 
was much with the air of one awaking from a dream, that she said, 
" My dear Miss Mary ! you have forgot that the carriage is sent 
away." 

" Indeed have I !" said Mary, laughing, " and no wonder. But 
there stands our faithful William, he will tell us in what direction we 
may find it." 

" Will you not return, Miss Brotherton, while it is made ready?" 
said the clergyman. 

" Not if you will walk on with us, dear sir. The evening is delight- 
ful, but already quite far enough advanced to make it prudent not to 
lose any time." And having given orders that the carriage was to 
follow, they strolled on towards the turnpike. 

" There," said Mr. Bell, pointing to the towering chimneys of a large 
factory at some distance, " there, Miss Brotherton, is an establishment 
where, though carding and spinning go on within the walls, and some 
hundreds of children and young girls are employed in attending the ma- 
chinery that performs the process, the voice of misery is never heard, 
for there the love of gold is chained and held captive by religion and 
humanity." 

" Thank God I" exclaimed Mary, as she looked at the sinless 
monster to which he pointed. " It is not of necessity then, that this 
dangerous trade is fatal to all employed in it." 

" Certainly not. Were but its labours restricted both for young 
and old, to ten hours a day, there is no reason on earth why it should 
not be carried on with comfort and advantage to every individual con- 
cerned in it, and with credit, honour, and prosperity to the country. 
But you can hardly guess what up-hill work it is, when one good man 
has got to stand alone, and breast the competition of a whole host of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 211 

bad ones in his commercial enterprises. The high-minded owners of 
yonder factory are losing thousands every year by their efforts to purify 
this traffic of its enormities — and some thousand small still voices call 
down blessings on them for it. But while it costs them ten shillings 
to produce what their neighbours can bring into the market for nine, 
they will only be pointed at as pitiably unwise in their generation by all 
the great family of Mammon which surrounds them. Few, alas ! will 
think of following the example ! All they can do therefore is in fact 
but to carry on a system of private charity on an enormous scale — but 
till they are supported by law, even their vast efforts, and most noble 
sacrifices can do nothing towards the general redemption of our poor 
northern people from the state of slavery into which they have fallen. 
And yet I do believe, Miss Brotherton," he continued, after a pause, 
" I do most truly believe that these greedy tyrants would fail more 
rarely than now they do in their efforts to realize enormous wealth, if 
the system were to undergo exactly the change we ask for. The plan 
of under-selling may indeed in some few instances enable a very lucky 
man to run up a blood-stained fortune ; and blood-stained it must be, 
for whenever this method of commanding a sale is pursued, and ruin 
does not ensue, it is demonstrable that the bones and marrow of chil- 
dren, working unlimited hours, must have been the main agent in the 
operation. But it is quite certain that the underselling system must 
upon the long run be ruinous. If all the losses upon our production 
were fairly set against all the gains from the immoderate working of 
young hands, the slavery scheme would appear as little profitable as 
holy. But here is your carriage, my dear young lady ! God bless you ! 
and may we live to rejoice together over an effectual legislative remedy 
for the evils we have passed this our first interview in deploring !" 

So saying, he extended his hand to assist her into the carriage which 
had already drawn up beside them — but Miss Brotherton stepped aside 
while he performed this office to her friend, and then laying her hand 
on his arm, drew him back a step or too to the spot from whence the 
factory chimneys he had pointed out to her were visible. 

(i Tell me, before we part," she said, *' the names of those to whom 
that building belongs?" 

" Wood and Walker," replied the clergyman. 
" Thank you !" she replied ; "I shall never hear those names with- 
out breathing a blessing on them !" 

Friendly farewells were once more exchanged, and the meditative 
heiress was driven back to Millford-park in silence so profound, that 
her old friend believed her to be asleep, and carefully abstained from 
any jnovement that might awaken her. But Mary Brotherton was not 
asleep. 



p 2 



212 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XX. 

TRADE IN A FLOURISHING STATE THE BENEFITS CONFERRED 

THEREBY TO THOSE EMPLOYED IN IT THE NATURAL LOGIC OF 

RELIGION — ITS FALLIBILITY WHEN PUT TO THE TEST. 

The moment at which Michael Armstrong entered the cotton mill 
at Deep Valley, was a critical one. The summer had been more than 
commonly sultry, and a large order had kept all hands very sharply at 
work. Even at dead of night the machinery was never stopped, and 
when one set of fainting children were dragged from the mules another 
set were dragged from the reeking beds they were about to occupy, in 
order to take their places. The ventilation throughout the whole fabric 
was exceedingly imperfect; the heat, particularly in the rooms im- 
mediately beneath the roof, frightfully intense ; cleanliness as to the 
beds, the floors, and the walls, utterly neglected ; and even the persons 
of the children permitted to be filthy to excess, from having no soap 
allowed to assist their ablutions — though from the greasy nature of their 
employment it was peculiarly (required, while the coarse meal oc- 
casionally given out to supply its place was invariably swallowed, being 
far too precious in the eyes of the hungry children to be applied to the 
purpose for which it was designed. In addition to all this, the food was 
miserably scanty, and of a nature so totally unfit to sustain the strength 
of growing children thus severely worked, that within a fortnight after 
Michael's arrival, an epidemic fever of a very alarming description be- 
gan to shew itself. But it had made considerable progress, before the 
presence of this new horror was revealed to him. 

Notwithstanding all the hardships of Brookford factory, no infec- 
tious disease had ever appeared there, which it is possible might have 
been owing to the fact that the majority of the labourers in it lived at a 
considerable distance, thus insuring to them a walk morning and night, 
through the fresh air. This, though it added to their daily fatigue, 
probably lessened the danger of it, while the wretched hovels to which 
they returned for their short night's rest, miserable shelters as they 
were, reeked not with the congregated effluvia of fifty uncleansed 
sleepers in one chamber ! Michael, therefore, had never before wit- 
nessed the hideous approach of contagion. The general appearance 
too of the Deep Valley troop was so far from healthy, that the sickly 
aspect of those first seized upon was less remarkable than it would 
have been elsewhere. Thus another week wore away, during which, 
though several of those who had been working when it began were 
withdrawn, and known to be in the sick-ward ere it closed, the fact 
that an infectious fever was among them had not yet got wing. 

" Poor dear Betsy Price !*' whispered Fanny Fletcher to her friend 
Michael, as they sat side by side at their miserable dinner one day. 
" I heard missis tell master that she was dead. But I am trying to be 
glad for it Michael." 

" Glad, Fanny?" replied the boy, "you told me once that you 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 213 

liked her more than any other girl in the mill, and now you are glad 
she is dead !" 

" I am not so glad as I think I ought to be," returned Fanny 
gently. " She will not be hungry in Heaven, Michael, nor will she 
work till she is ready to fall : and surely God will give us green fields 
and sweet fresh air in Heaven, and there must be flowers, Michael. 
Oh ! I am quite sure of that, and Betsy Price will have it all ! Ought 
I not to be very, very, glad V* 

Michael looked in her sweet, innocent face, as she said this, and 
tears filled his eyes. 

" And if you die, Fanny, must I be glad too ?" 
" If you thought about Heaven as I do, and if you loved me very 
much indeed," replied the little girl, " I can't tell how you could help 
being glad." 

" But I do love you very much indeed," said Michael, almost choked 
by his efforts not to cry, " and I do think of Heaven, too, Fanny, but 
I could'nt be glad if you was to die !" 

" Not when you hear that, Michael !" said Fanny, starting up as the 
lash of the governor's whip resounded through the room as a signal 
that their numbered moments of rest were over. " I suppose then I 
love you better than you love me, for I could not help being glad if I 
knew that you would never hear nor feel that lash again !" 

When they met again at supper, Michael, though still unsuspicious 
of the cause, missed three more children from their places. He fan- 
cied, too, that there was something new and strange in the aspect of 
their hard-featured female tyrant ; she was paler than usual, scolded 
not at all, and when she spoke to her husband, it was in a voice that 
hardly exceeded a whisper. Yet, notwithstanding this, some young 
ears again caught words that told of death. Yet still the mill worked 
on, and nothing seemed to mark that any calamity more than usual 
had got among them. 

By degrees, however, the growing pestilence burst forth, as it were, 
before the eyes of the terrified children, and they knew that the grave 
yawned before them all. Then it was that the ghastly countenances of 
each doomed victim struck dismay into the hearts of their companions 
even before they were permitted to leave their labour, and sink down 
to the rest that should be disturbed no more. But still the mill went 
on, for Mr. Elgood Sharpton had just received a glorious order from 
Russia, and it would have been perfect madness, as this gentlemen was 
heard to remark to his eldest son, if a death or two among the appren- 
tice children was to check the mill at such a time as that. 

So the mill went on, and death went on too. But as it is considered 
by all parties concerned to be extremely important that the cry of 
epidemic contagion should not be raised in the neighbourhood of a 
factory under these circumstances, it was deemed best by Mr. Elgood 
Sharpton, and his confidential managers, not to call in medical assist- 
ance. 

" For first and foremost, Poulet," said the experienced proprietor to 
the governor of the apprentice house, " first and foremost, it is of 



214 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

no manner of use. I never knew any proper, regular contagious fever 
in my life, that could be stopped short by a doctor. You must take 
care of yourself and your wife, of course, and I will see that you have a 
hamper of good old port sent in, and mind that you both of you take 
two glasses a day each, Poulet — one before you go into the rooms in 
the morning, and the other, after you have seen them all down for the 
night, and we must order in a cask of vinegar to sprinkle the cham- 
bers. Trust me that this will do more good than all the doctors that 
ever were hatched. Besides the vinegar cask will never sing out you 
know, Poulet, and the doctor might." 

To this reasoning, and to these arrangements, no objection whatever 
was made by the governor of the apprentice-house. Of athletic frame, 
and iron nerves, he grinned defiance at any danger that threatened his 
own person, rightly enough thinking, perhaps, that any disease to 
which his water-porridge-fed troop appeared peculiarly liable, would 
be little likely to attack himself. 

It was, however, not the least part of his wisdom upon this occa- 
sion, that he systematically paid as little attention to what was going 
on round him as possible. Had he made it a habit to look into the 
haggard faces of the drooping children, as one after another they 
pined, languished, and sunk, first into the horrible abyss of wretched- 
ness called the sick-ward, and then into the grave, it is possible that he 
too might in some degree have been shaken. As it was, however, he 
went on so cleverly supplying the missing hands by recommending to 
the manager that one healthy child should do the work of two, and so 
cleverly, also, getting all that died by day buried by night, without 
making, as he said, any fuss or fidget about it whatever, that Mr. El- 
good Sharpton felt him to be eminently deserving of an especial re- 
ward, and when fifteen children had been noiselessly buried, in Tugs- 
well churchyard, he presented him with a Bank of England note for 
ten pounds, as a testimony of his esteem and gratitude for his very 
exemplary and praiseworthy behaviour. It fared not quite so well, 
however, with his wife. Whether it were that the poco-curante system 
was less within reach of her position than of his ; or that her frame 
was less stoutly proof against the malaria with which she was sur- 
rounded, a visible change came over her about three weeks after this 
visitation had been first felt at the Deep Valley mills. Strong in con- 
stitution, and athletic in form, it seemed, however, no easy matter for 
disease itself to conquer her. The large dark eye grew dim, and sunk 
back behind her high cheek-bones by degrees. Her coarse firm-set 
features appeared to relax, and her active limbs to languish, for two 
whole days before she yielded herself to the invincible power that had 
seized upon her. 

It happened during this interval that Fanny Fletcher and Michael, 
in their eagerness to communicate to each other their observations on 
the rapidly-increasing sickness of their fellow-labourers, hung back 
together, as the frightened train swept on before the lifted lash of the 
governor, and permitted nearly all their companions to reach the mill 
ere they had left the supper-room. They were perhaps themselves un- 



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london.Poblislied Aug.^U. I .'. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 215 

conscious how much they were emboldened to this hardy defiance of 
a standing law by the unwonted stillness of tongue, and tameness of 
aspect observable in Mrs. Poulet. But if they fancied they were to 
escape entirely they were mistaken, for whilst the little girl was telling 
Michael that they ought always, at work, or not at work, to be think- 
ing of God, who was perhaps thinking of them, and meaning to take 
them both up together to his own happy Heaven, just as she had laid 
her hand on his to enforce her words, and looking wistfully in his face 
pronounced aloud, " Do Michael, do I" the sick dragon stepped back 
on hearing them, from the passage that led into the kitchen, and turn- 
ing her ghastly face full upon them, exclaimed, while her languid fist 
strove in vain to clench and raise itself, as in days of yore, to threaten 
castigation. 

" Do ! you devil's imps ! I'll do ye ! Off to your mules or by — J* 
But ere she could finish the sentence, her fever-laden sinews relaxed, 
and seizing upon the long table for support she sank almost insensible 
upon a bench. 

Greatly terrified, both Michael and Fanny screamed together, 
but they screamed in vain. There was no longer any one within 
hearing save in the closely packed chamber above, where more than 
twenty sick children lay two and two together, in their miserable beds, 
but totally without nurses or attendants of any kind, so that their loud 
cries, though heard by many brought assistance from none. 

" Oh ! Michael! Michael! she'll die too !" said Fanny shuddering. 
" I would make her live longer if I could. She is not fit to die. Go 
to the pump, Michael, and fetch water ! Go, go, dear boy. We must 
not leave her this way !" 

The little girl endeavoured to raise the woman's head, which had 
sunk upon the table, but the effort was beyond her strength, and feel- 
ing after a moment's reflection that the best manner of assisting her, 
would be to call others, she cried, " No, no ! don't go Michael ! 
Don't go for the water. It is no use my trying to hold her up, and be- 
sides we don't know if it is good for her or not. Oh dear! how 
dreadful bad she looks. Let us run away to the mill, Michael, and 
tell the master." 

The seizure of Mrs. Poulet, unlike every other, became, within an hour, 
from the time it was known, the theme of every tongue throughout the 
whole establishment. Had it been Mr. Elgood Sharpton himself it could 
not well have occasioned a greater sensation. The effect this produced 
throughout the sickly troop might have served as a proof of the wisdom 
of a government when it conceals the mischief it has brought upon an 
empire, from those who are likely to discuss it. The total silence which till 
now had been preserved among the managers and overlookers respect- 
ing the contagious nature of the malady which had got among the 
children, the absence of all medical attendance, and of all precau- 
tionary or medical measures in any way calculated to excite attention, 
had hitherto very successfully prevented rumour from doing her usual 
work on such occasions ; and it is probable that this partial ignorance 
of their own danger considerably lessened its consequences ; for it was 



216 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

only one or two such thougthful, meditative little things, as Fanny 
Fletcher, who had began to remember having heard of infectious 
fevers, and to think that maybe it was something of that sort that had 
made Nos. 9, 16, 18, 19. &c, &c, stay away so long, and that too, 
when the mill was so very busy. 

But when it became generally known that the awful strength of Mrs. 
Poulet was laid low, and when the words, " the fever have cautched 
her V had once been pronounced aloud, the palpable image of the pale 
tyrant seemed to stand frowning in the midst of them, substituting his 
grisley hour-glass and scythe for the fist, and the frown he had con- 
quered. 

The scene which followed this was very frightful. — Those upon whom 
infection had seized, sunk from their work at once, despite the goading 
thong which had hitherto kept them from dropping— as the spur and 
the lash sustain the failing post-horse. While those who were yet un- 
touched looked in each other's faces as if to watch who next should 
fail. When the children from all the different floors of the fabric met 
together at their midday meal, the first thought of each seemed to be 
the finding out who was missing since last they assembled, and the 
shudder that followed the perceiving another and another, and another 
gone, ran along the shortening lines with an agony which grew more and 
more intense as their numbers lessened. 

When things had reached this state, Mr. Elgood Sharpton agreed 
with Mr. Poulet that it might perhaps be as well to let an apothecary 
from Tugswell visit the factory, to which reluctant decision two reasons 
strongly contributed. The first was, that though with his usual fore- 
thought he had divided his nocturnal buryings between the churchyards 
of Tugswell and Meddington, the clergymen of both had declared that 
their frequency rendered it necessary that some inquiry should be made 
into the cause of so great a mortality — and the second was that the 
fact of the mistress of the apprentice house, being herself at the point 
of death from the same malady, must infallibly prove to the medical 
visitant that it was no treatment peculiar to the children which had oc- 
casioned it, but that it had come beyond all possibility of contradiction 
by the visitation of God. 

Nevertheless the medical gentleman ventured to declare that nothing 
would be so likely to stop the contagion as nourishing food ; upon 
which the terrified manufacturer astonished all the butchers within his 
reach, by commanding a large supply of beef and mutton " good 
enough to make wholesome soup" and before another ghastly week had 
passed away, the wisdom of this prescription became so evident that 
when settling accounts together at the end of it, Mr. Poulet hinted to 
his employer that he did not feel quite sure whether upon the whole a 
little better living for the apprentices might not pay. 

For all answer Mr. Elgood Sharpton put his finger to the sum total 
for provisions during the last week, and then turning back a page or 
two of the huge volume, did the same by the sum total of a former 
week. 

*" True, sir, true enough," said Mr. Poulet, " but howsomever it 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 217 

can't be denied, that if we go on this fashion we shall have no hands 
left to work with. — and there would be but small profit in that sir." 

'•* My dear Poulet, you do not study the population returns as at- 
tentively as I do," replied his enlightened master. " Just at this 
moment it may be very right to cram them for several reasons — the 
best being, observe, that by so doing we stop more mouths than their 
own. But as to going on in the same style of expense when this fit of 
dying and gossiping is over, it is quite out of the question, and I do 
beg that you will never mention the subject to me again. You can 
know little my good Poulet of the rate at which pauper children are 
multiplied, if you think it necessary to preserve them at this ruinous 
rate of expence. If there were all of them to die off before the end of 
the month, I would undertake to* have their place supplied before the 
end of the next. You may take my word for it that no man ever suc- 
ceeded in business who did not know how to make out an accurate 
balance between profit and loss. I know to a fraction what each of 
these 'prentice brats are worth, Poulet, and I can tell you that such 
weekly bills as these would speedily turn the tables against us." 

'* In that case, sir, there is surely no more to be said," replied 
Poulet ; and then changing the subject, he added, " In course, sir. 
you won't object to my missis being buried by day, instead of by night ? 
Besides respect to her, sir, I think it would be quite as well, shewing 
all the country, you see, as how flesh is but grass for the high, as for 
the low, and making it manifest to all the country that it can't be no 
want of good nursing and comfort as causes the deaths at our mill." 

" Quite right, quite right, Poulet," replied the rapid-minded Mr. 
Sharpton, promptly ; " I should not object even to stopping the mills 
for a couple of hours or so, and making all the hands follow as 
mourners, if you thought it would answer." 

" Why, as to that, sir," said the faithful servant, " I would not un- 
dertake to say that we should be able to get up much of a procession 
if we turned out the whole lot to choose from. They couldn't stand I 
should think, sir, without the mules to hold by, for so long together. 
They totter frightful, I can tell you, when they starts first to move to 
and fro, from factory to 'prentice-house, and back again, and I don't 
think there would be either credit or profit in making a show of them." 

" Well, well ! do as you will, Poulet. I dont care a brass farthing 
whether they walk or stand ; and I can't say when I built this factory, 
it was with any view to make a show, as you call it, of the young 
ladies and gentlemen to be employed in it." 

With a light laugh which challenged an answering laugh from 
the governor, widower as he was, Mr. Elgood Sharpton rose to depart. 
Poulet attended him to the outer gate, and held his stirrup while he 
mounted, reiterating his promises to do the best he could, and only 
stipulating for plenty of vinegar, and leave to use soap till the cold 
weather came in. 

Meanwhile, though a less proportion died of those who were seized 
with the malady, than before the improvement in the diet was intro- 
duced, the plague was as yet very far from being stayed. No day 



218 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

passed without many fresh victims sinking under its influence, and it 
was no uncommon thing to see two or three wheelbarrows at a time, 
towards the evening [of every day, conveying children from the fac- 
tory to the apprentice-house who had fallen while following the ma- 
chinery. 

For a whole week after the death of Mrs. Poulet, Michael and his 
friend Fanny, both continued as it seemed, unscathed, and many were 
the grave discussions between them, as to whether they ought to be 
sorry or glad that they were so — Fanny very steadily adhering to her 
first opinion, that if they had a great deal of love for each other, they 
would not let themselves be sorry, if one saw the other go away, and 
Michael as steadily persisting that right or wrong he must be so very 
sorry if Fanny went, as not to care at all how soon he followed after. 

The disinterested reasonings of the little girl were soon put to the 
proof. Michael looked so very ill one morning at breakfast, that even 
the iron-hearted Poulet told him he had best mount to the sick ward 
before it was needful to carry him ; but Michael looked at poor Fanny, 
and saw such an expression of terror and misery in her countenance, 
that he could not help thinking she would change her mind about being 
glad, if he did not go into work along with her. So he told the gover- 
nor that he wasn't bad at all, and had rather work than not; an 
assurance, which it could not, under any circumstances, be Mr. 
Poulet's duty to combat ; and accordingly Michael got to his place in 
the mill, and spoke cheeringly to Fanny as he went along. But be- 
fore the hour of dinner he was on the floor, and when the overlooker 
called to a stretcher to have him wheelbarrowed back to the 'Prentice- 
house, Fanny Fletcher thought that she certainly did not love poor 
Michael Armstrong so much as she fancied she did, for that if the 
choice had been given her, she would a great deal rather have been 
taken ill herself. And spite of a strap that she saw coining towards 
her, and flourishing ready for duty in the air, she helped to drag the 
unresisting body of her poor companion from before the mules, and 
thoughtless and reckless of the consequences, sat down and held his 
head on her knee, till he was raised in the arms of the stretcher and 
carried off. It was then, and not till then, that her tears began to 
flow, and they flowed so fast, that she could no longer see the up- 
lifted strap, nor was it till the blow had descended sharply on her arm 
that she was sufficiently mistress of her thoughts to remember, that 
there was at any rate a hope that it might be her turn next, and with 
this to comfort her, she yielded meekly to the arm that pushed her to 
her usual place, and resumed her occupation with more stedfast 
courage, than at that moment any other hope could have given her. 

But even this sad hope proved vain. Fanny Fletcher still conti- 
nued one of the very few upon whom the contagion had no effect. For 
the first day or two after the removal of her friend, her mind was 
almost wholly occupied by the expectation of feeling the same symp- 
toms that she had witnessed in him ; and when these came not, her 
thoughts reverted to the possibility of his recovering and coming again 
to work near her. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, 219 

It was an established custom among those who alone could give infor- 
mation on the subject, never to permit any questionings concerning the 
sick, or if they were boldly hazarded, to give no other reply than a re- 
buke. So that day after day, and week after week elapsed, without her 
being at all able to guess, whether Michael were dead or alive. By de- 
grees, however, all hope of seeing him return, faded from her mind, and 
then, poor little girl, she found out that people can't always wish 
truly and really for what they know to be best either for themselves or 
others. And day by day, though still the fever touched her not, she 
grew more pale, more thin, more melancholy. Now and then, indeed, 
it still occurred to her as possible that Michael might reappear again, as 
many had done after many days of sickness ; but, alas ! none had ever 
staid away so long as he had done ! She had questioned many who 
had been ill concerning him, but none seemed to know or care any 
thing about tl^ose who had shared the sick chamber with them ; till at 
length, a boy to whom she had often addressed these questions, be- 
cause she happened to know that he had been taken to the sick ward 
on the same day as Michael, replied as if 'by a sudden effort of recol- 
lection, 

" Oh ! that chap ? Him what was one of the last as come ? Ay, ay, I 
mind all about him. He was dead and buried before he had been 
down three days." 

Fanny Fletcher asked no more questions, nor had she any longer- 
hope of following where so many of her happier companions were gone. 
The fever was pronounced to be over, the Factory and Apprentice- 
house were whitewashed, and a number of new inmates arrived. All 
things in short at the Deep- Valley Mills appeared to be going on as 
prosperously as usual ; a statement which could be hardly impeached 
by the fact that one little girl there was growing paler and more sha- 
dow-like every day. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

MISS BROTHERTON EXERTS HER ELOQUENCE, AND NURSE TREMLETT IS 

BROUGHT TO REASON THEREBY THE HEIRESS HARDENS HER 

HEART, AND SPEAKS HARSH TRUTHS TO MARTHA DOWLING, BUT 

ALL IN VAIN SHE CONCEIVES A PROJECT, AND SETS ABOUT PUTTING 

IT IN EXECUTION WITH GREAT SPIRIT. 

" Well, my dear Mary, I" said Mrs. Tremlett, on sitting down 
tete-d-tete with Miss Brotherton, after their return from Fairly, 
** don't you think that you will come at last to confess that I was right 
when I told you that you had better let things alone, and not attempt 
to make any fuss or stir about these factory goings on ?" 

Mary looked sick at heart, and only shook her head in reply. 

" Why, what have you gained, my dear child, by all your labour and 



220 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

pains to get information, as you call it? You are looking as white as 
a sheet — your eyes are sunk in your head — when I look at you, instead 
of the smiles you used to give me, I get nothing but sighs, and all for 
what '{ Can you in honesty and truth say that you have gained any 
thing worth knowing by following your own opinion instead of mine ? 
"What good in the world can you do, dear, by listening to all the 
shocking stories that clergyman there told you ? I dare say he is a very 
good man, and he looks like it, but upon my word I think he is doing 
nothing but just wasting his time, as well as yourself; for though I sat 
and said nothing, as of course it was my place to do, I listened to 
every word, and it is just because I believe every word was true, that 
common sense makes me see there's no good to talk about it. In- 
deed, and indeed, my darling, I would not make free to talk to you in 
this way, which looks for all the world as if I was taking advantage of 
your goodness to me, if I did not see that you was going the way to 
torment yourself for everlasting, without doing one bit of good to any 
one. For how, my dear, can you, or that good clergyman either, hope 
to put down all the wicked doings he told.about ? And to be sure he 
said as much himself — didn't he Miss Mary ? Then do make up your 
mind to be quiet and happy, and let things that you can't mend, alone. 
Put as many children to school as you like, my dear, and you may 
give them a pretty neat uniform, you know, and that will be a pleasure 
for you to think about, and to look at ; but for pity's sake my dear, 
dear, child ! give up at once, and for ever, this bothering yourself for 
everlasting about the factories, which you can no more stop, Mary, 
than you can stop the sun from rising in the morning, and setting at 
night." 

Here the good woman ceased, and looked with some anxiety in the 
thoughtful eyes of her young mistress. She felt that she did not un- 
derstand their expression, and no wonder, for Mary Brotherton her- 
self sat silently doubting how she should answer her. A languid 
feeling, proceeding partly from fatigue and indisposition, and partly 
from the discouraging conviction that she had no very satisfactory ar- 
guments by which to rebut her old friend's charge of useless devotion 
to a hopless cause, made her for some minutes unwilling to speak at 
all. Then came a somewhat peevish wish to interdict for ever the 
discussion of the subject between them ; but as she raised her eyes to 
utter it, she encountered a look of such humble love, deprecating her 
displeasure, yet fondly clinging to the freedom which risked the incur- 
ing it, that her purpose suddenly changed, and instead of the chilling 
command she was meditating, she threw her arms round the old 
woman's neck, exclaiming, 

" Oh ! my dear nurse ! How much, how very much you must love 
me ! since care for my already too-much-cared-for peace and quiet, 
can harden such a heart as yours towards all the sufferings we have 
this day heard recounted !" 

"Thank God ! you are not angry," cried the affectionate old woman 
kissing her, and then arranging the neglected ringlets of her pretty 
charge, and looking cheerily in her face, she said, " Now then, Mary, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 221 

I won't teaze you any more about it. You are so sweet and so gentle 
to me, that I am quite sure you will not long think my heart is hard ; 
and then by degrees you will find out that I am right ; and then all 
will go well again, and 1 shall see my dear girl look like herself once 
more." 

" Nurse Tremlett! the time is already come when the impossibility of 
my efforts being of any avail to stem the torrent with which avarice and 
cruelty are overwhelming the land, is made evident to me. So much, 
dear nurse, I concede to you, and therefore on that point we will argue 
no more. But, my dear old woman, have patience with me if I tell 
you that there are some points on which my reading may have given 
me, young as I am, as much, or even more information than your ex- 
perience has given you. You have heard of the . slave trade, nurse 
Tremlett — you have heard more than one excellent charity sermon 
preached in aid of the funds that were to assist in freeing these poor 
helpless black people from the tyranny of their masters, and I suppose 
you know that it is now unlawful to buy and sell these poor creatures. 
And how do you think this happy change in their favour has been 
brought about ?" 

" By the king and the parliament, Miss Mary, making that most 
good and righteous law," replied nurse Tremlett. 

" And how were they persuaded to make that law, think you?" de- 
manded Mary. 

" I can't tell how that was brought about, my dear. I suppose it 
was because they saw that it was right and fit." 

'*. It was brought about, nurse Tremlett, by the voices of the people 
of England, which were for years raised quietly, and with no breach of 
law or order, but with patient and unshrinking perseverance against this 
great sin, till the lengthened cry could be no longer resisted, and the 
law they perseverinlgy asked for, was granted to them. Do you think, 
nurse Tremlett, that if during these years of orderly, but steady re- 
monstrance, every Englishman and woman had acted upon the prin- 
ciple you recommend, and had turned their thoughts and their 
conversation from the subject of negro slavery, because each one 
knew that he or she individually possessed no power to stop it. Do 
you think that if such had been the system acted upon, England would 
now have to boast of having abolished this most wicked traffic ?" 

" Perhaps not, my dear. I think I understand you now," replied 
the honest-hearted old woman, eagerly. 

" Then now my dear old friend we shall, I think, never have any 
more disputes upon this subject. You — I — every servant in my house 
— every acquaintance I have in the world, may aid and assist in putting 
an end to this most atrocious factory system, which ought to weigh 

HEAVIER UPON EVERY CHRISTIAN ENGLISH HEART THAN EVER THE 

slave-trade did. If the whole British empire, nurse, did but know 
what we are about here — if the facts we heard from Mr. Bell to-day 
were but impressed upon the minds of all my fellow-subjects as they 
are on mine, the horrors he detailed would cease before another year 
was come and gone." 



222 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" God forbid then, my sweet child, that I should ever more raise my 
sinful voice to drown your righteous one. I have been a vain self- 
sufficient old woman, my dear Mary, and clearly have been talking a 
great deal about that of which I know nothing. Only don't think I 
am cruel and hard-hearted ; for though Ido — as you truly say — though 
I do love you very very much indeed, I am not such a wretch as to hear 
all we were told to-day without wishing to mend it." 

This was the last time Mary Brotherton had to do battle with her 
nurse on the subject of the factory system. Once awakened to a 
sense of its tyranny and injustice, and made to feel that the only hope 
of remedy lay in the possibilty of universally raising British feeling 
against it, there was no danger that the right-hearted old woman would 
ever again turn with indifference, weariness, or displeasure, from the 
theme. Her young mistress felt that she had touched the right string, 
and that she should never again have to fear discord where it was so 
essential to her comfort to find harmony. This change was really a 
comfort, and she felt it to be so, removing as it did one irksome feature 
from her situation, and for a few minutes it cheered her, and she said 
so, cordially, but the next, a pang shot to her heart, as she rememem- 
bered that this assurance of accordant counsels with her venerable 
nurse, could avail her nothing in the most painful of all her difficulties, 
for it promised no help either in obtaining light upon the mystery of 
poor Michael's abode, or in the still more pressing embarrassment of 
confessing to his unhappy mother and brother the impossibility of 
obtaining it. Yet this painful task must be performed, and that with- 
out delay, for well she knew that every hour that passed without their 
seeing her, would be rendered dreadful, both by the agony of fear, and 
the sickening hot and cold fits of uncertainty. But never had she felt 
herself so very a coward as while meditating this visit of the morrow. 
She saw in imagination the eager questioning of Edward's speaking 
eyes, and the heavy glance of his mother, anticipating the worst she 
had to tell. 

Sometimes she thought she would await the coming of the boy to 
take his place in the school, and let him report the failure of all her 
inquiries to the poor widow. But there was a selfish cowardice in this 
which instantly struck her, and she seemed to hate herself for the 
suggestion. For above an hour after she had laid her head upon her 
pillow these thoughts kept her painfully awake, and it was only after 
deciding that she would once more see Martha Dowling, and try the 
effect of repeating to her, but without quoting her authority, the dark 
hints she had listened to, respecting Sir Matthew's possible motives. 
It was only when her restless thoughts had fixed themselves on this, 
that she at length closed her aching eyes in sleep. 

Above an hour before the usual hour of rising, Mary Brotherton 
was already at her writing desk. The idea of going to Dowling-lodge, 
and encountering the knight and his family, was intolerable, and she 
had therefore recourse to her pen as the means of obtaining the inter- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 223 

view she wished for, without paying for it the penalty of such a visit. 
She wrote as follows : 

" My dear Miss Martha, 

" I trust you are too goodnatured to be angry with me, even if 
you should think that I am taking a great liberty with you. But the 
truth is, that I much wish for the pleasure of seeing you, and yet am 
too idle this morning to venture upon a drive. Will you then have the 
great kindness to pass the morning with me here ? I send my car- 
riage, lest Lady Dowling should not have one at leisure to send with 
you. 

" Believe me, my dear Miss Martha, 

" Yours very sincerely, 
" Mary Brotherton." 

Having written, folded, and sealed this epistle, Mary recollected that 
it would be impossible to send it for at least four hours, and she smiled 
first, and then sighed, as she thought of the restless but useless activity 
which had caused her so needlessly to forestall her usual hour of 
rising. It would, in truth, have been better for her, poor girl, could 
she have slept through the time, for her waking thoughts had little that 
was pleasant to rest upon. _Even the commencement of Edward's 
studies, to which she had before looked forward with great delight, now 
recurred to her only to bring the recollection that if she saw him, his 
thoughts would be neither of his new clothes nor his new books, but of 
Michael, and of her promise to get tidings of him. For his sake, and 
her own too, she determined at least to escape this interview, feeling 
that it would be better for all parties that no tidings should be de- 
livered to both mother and son at once, which could be done after his 
school hours, by her driving to Hoxley-lane, after she had taken Martha 
home. 

In pursuance of this resolution, she walked to the school-house, 
renewed her orders that the greatest attention should be paid to the new 
scholar, Edward Armstrong, and care taken that if he were found back- 
ward for his age, he should neither be laughed at nor chid. She then 
left a message for him, stating that she should be engaged all the 
morning, but would see him at his mother's house, after he lef 
' school. 

At eleven o'clock Miss Brotherton's equipage set off for Dowl/rg* 
lodge, bearing her letter to Martha, and the interval till its returr was 
an anxious one. First she felt doubtful if her unusual invitation 
would be accepted ; and if it were, she felt more doubtful still as to 
the nature of the scene which must follow. Nothing short of her 
earnest wish to redeem her promise to Mrs. Armstrong could have given 
Mary courage to do what she now meditated. 

She entertained not the slightest doubt of the intrinsic excellence of 
Martha Dowling. All she had ever seen of her, and still more, all she 
had heard from the Armstrongs, convinced her of this ; and to pain 
her therefore, particularly in that most tender point, the exposure of 



224 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

her father, the tremendous effect of which upon her, Mary had already- 
witnessed, was one of the very last measures she could have been led 
to adopt. But a strong and stern feeling of justice, urged her not to 
shrink from this. It was evident from the statement of Mrs. Arm- 
strong that Martha had been actively instrumental in sending Michael 
to his present destination, let it be where it might; and painful or not 
painful, it was unquestionably right to make her understand the 
doubts that existed as to the boy's well-being, in order that she might 
avail herself, as she was bound to do, of her access to the only person 
who could explain the transaction. 

Having screwed her courage, therefore, to the strictness of ex- 
amination necessary to her most righteous purpose, Mary left her 
boudoir in the possession of Mrs. Tremlett, and repaired to the library 
to await her guest. Nor did she wait long. Almost before the time 
arrived at which she had calculated that the carriage might return, 
the great house-bell gave signal of a visiter, and the next moment 
Martha Dowling stood before her. 

The two young girls shook hands, and each observed that the other 
looked paler than she was wont to do. The heart of Mary sank within 
her as she marked the expression of Martha's countenance. Not only 
was it pale, but most speakingly anxious, and in addition to her usual 
shy and reserved manner there was an appearance of uneasiness, and 
almost of fear, as she thought, which seemed to tell that her object was 
suspected. Nor was she wrong. In pursuance of a promise given to 
Mickael, Martha had visited the widow Armstrong, and the intense 
anxiety under which she found her suffering respecting the destination 
of her boy, awakened for the first time in her own mind a shadowy 
suspicion that all might not be right concerning him. The pang this 
cost her was terrible. Good and kind-hearted as she was, there was 
no strength of fibre in Martha's character which might enable her to brave 
every thing rather than remain in doubt. She loved her father fondly, but 
she feared him more, and the stronger her suspicions grew (and un- 
happily the more she meditated the more they strengthened), the less 
power she felt either to refute or confirm them. 

The note of Miss Brotherton was delivered to her at the family 
breakfast table, and the instant she read it, the truth suggested itself 
to her mind. Had she been a free agent, the wounded shrinking 
spirit of the poor girl would have certainly led her to invent some ex- 
cuse for refusing an invitation so full of terror ; but she was not. 

" What's that about, Martha?" said Sir Matthew, holding out his 
hand for the note. 

" It is from Miss Brotherton," muttered Martha, as she resigned it 
to him. 

"Mercy on me!" exclaimed her eldest sister," what a wonderful 
fancy Miss Brotherton seems to have taken for Martha! I do think 
it is the very oddest thing I ever heard of." 

" What a goose you are, my dear, not to understand it !" observed 
Miss Harriet, the second sister, giving at the same time a very signifi- 
cant glance towards her brother Augustus. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 225 

" But good gracious !" retorted Miss Arabella, why might not any- 
other of us do as well ? It would seem so much more natural in such 
an elegant and fashionable girl as she is." 

"■ She is afraid of us, Bella," replied Miss Harriet, tittering. 

Sir Matthew, who had not only read the note, but contrived to hear 
all that his two eldest daughters said concerning it, here burst into a 
laugh. 

" Set a thief to catch a thief — hey ! Harriet ? Come Martha ! start 
away ! You have finished your breakfast long ago. I won't have the 
carriage kept waiting." 

" Must I go, papa?" said poor Martha, turning very pale. 

"Must you go ? and with that die-away look too ? Why, Martha ! 
are you jealous, because some folks fancy that the young lady wants 
to make friends with you, for more reasons than one ?" 

" I would a great deal rather not go, papa !" replied Martha in a 
beseeching accent. 

" Martha ! I shall be in a downright passion with you in half a minute. 
Upon my honour I never heard any thing so cross-grained and unsisterly 
in my life. Go this moment, and get on your bonnet, and remember if 
you please, from first to last, to speak of your brother as a sister ought 
to speak. And if she hints any thing about his having flirted a little 
with Carry Thompson, be sure to say that he only did it to laugh at 
her." 

As he spoke these words, Sir Matthew rose from the table, as if to 
accelerate the movement which was to send her off. 

Martha listened to him with the habitual reverence which she ever 
bestowed on all he uttered ; but shook her head, as it seemed, involun- 
tarily, as he concluded. 

"Why you don't mean to say he was in earnest, you good-for- 
nothing spiteful girl !" cried Lady Dowling, suddenly rousing herself 
from the dignified apathy in which she usually indulged. 

" What a shame !" cried one sister. 

" That's too bad !" cried the other. 

" Just like her, though !" sneered Mr. Augustus. 

" Hold your tongues, all of you," said Sir Matthew, " I know 
Martha better than any of ye, trust me for that, and what I bid her 
do, that she will do, and nothing else. Run away Martha. Don't 
mind any of 'em." 

Thus urged, thus goaded to the interview she dreaded, Martha 
hastened to leave the room ; but ere she passed the door, something at 
her heart told her that her best course would be to take her father 
apart, and tell him all. She turned back to look at him, but met a 
frown so strongly indicative of growing impatience at her delay, that 
yielding to the sort of slavish feeling in which she had been nurtured, 
she hurried forward to obey him. Hac^she possessed greater moral 
courage, many subsequent events would have been different. 

After the first salutation was over, Miss Brotherton, making a strong 
mental effort to subdue her agitation — of which she was infinitely more 

Q 



226 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

capable than her companion — begged her to sit down ; and then, 
placing herself where she could have, as a commentary on what she 
might induce her to say, the advantage of watching her countenance, 
she pronounced in a voice that she in vain laboured to render steady, 
" My dear Miss Martha, I have suffered a great deal of uneasiness 
since I last saw you respecting the little boy for whom — concerning 
whom — I mean Michael Armstrong, Martha! His mother is very 
"wretched because she cannot discover to what place he has been sent ; 
and I, nothing doubting that it would be perfectly easy to learn this 
from you, rashly promised that I would obtain this information. Can 
you, dear girl ! tell me more upon this subject now, than you could 
when last we met?" 

" I cannot, Miss Brotherton!" replied Martha Dowling, in a voice 
so low and husky, as hardly to be audible, but with a complexion and 
features that spoke so plainly what was passing in her heart, that Mary 
felt ashamed of having placed herself where she could so distinctly 
read all she suffered, and leaving her chair to share the sofa on which 
the poor girl was seated, she took her hand and said, 

" My poor dear Martha ! It would be better for us both that I should 
speak sincerely. I have become acquainted with an individual, 
Martha, who knows more, much more, than either you or I can do, 
my dear girl, respecting the factories — those great magazines of 
human life and labour by which your father, and mine also, have grown 
from poverty to wealth. This person, Martha, on my questioning him 
respecting the probable destination of a child so circumstanced, did 
not scruple to reply, that if his master were displeased, and wished to 
be rid of him, there were places — factories, mills, dear Martha, where 
the business was so managed as to render labour very heavy punish- 
ment, and where it was easy to keep children, ay, hundreds of them, 
unseen and unknown for years. Do not tremble thus, dear Martha ! 
Do not draw your hand away from me ! Most sure I am that your 
heart and my heart must beat in sympathy on such a subject as this. 
Let us be mutually sincere, and we may help each other to undo 
whatever wrong may have been done. We know, we both well know, 
that your father icas displeased with this poor widow's son. We 
know, too, that he is a person of great power and influence. The boy 
is gone — he will not tell us where. What is the inference? Turn not 
from it, Martha Dowling, turn not from it, my poor friend, but boldly 
and honestly seek out the truth, and let me know enough of it to save 
this helpless child from further suffering." 

" I have no means, Miss Brotherton," faltered poor Martha. " If 
all your dreadful thoughts were true, which you have no right to think 
they are — and still less have I — but if they were true, all true, I have 
no means to know it." 

" If we have any reason to believe them true," said Mary, solemnly, 
" means must be taken, Martha Dowling, to stop farther wrong ; and 
this can only be by learning where Michael Armstrong has been sent. 
I apply to you for this with great reluctance, because I know the sub- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 227 

ject cannot be brought before you without causing you pain. But I 
feel it my duty not to shrink from this, and it is yours, my dear girl, 
to obtain the information I require." 

" But if I agreed with you in this, Miss Brotherton, what are my 
means of obtaining it beyond your own?" said Martha, rousing her- 
self, and feeling renewed courage from remembering that there was no 
proof whatever of the boy's being otherwise than well and happy. 

"Nay, Martha," returned the heiress gravely, u amongst those en- 
gaged in your father's service, you can hardly be at a loss to find some 
one who must have been employed in removing him." 

" And would you have me," replied the poor girl, indignantly, 
" would you have me tamper with my father's servants, in order to ob- 
tain a knowledge of what it may be his will to keep secret ? Miss 
Brotherton, I would rather die than do so." 

'* I honour your filial feelings, Martha, and grieve to think that you 
are placed in circumstances which must compel you to make them se- 
condary," said Mary, gently, j 

" Nothing can make them secondary," retorted Martha, warmly, 
" I love my father, and I hold my duty to him the first and the 
highest I have to perform on earth." 

" Save only what you owe to your own soul, Martha Dowling," re- 
plied Mary. " Had you been yourself for nothing in this matter, I 
might think as you do, that your duty as a child must prevent your in- 
terfering in it, though even that, I suspect, would be but doubtful 
morality. But, Martha! the case is otherwise. It w T as by your influ- 
ence that this helpless widow was induced to send her child away. She 
did not trust your father, but she trusted you. Do you not know, 
Martha, that I speak the truth ? And if I do, can you for an instant 
doubt that your first duty is to redeem the pledge you gave to this 
poor trusting creature, who hazarded all that was dearest to her in 
life, upon your assurance V 

A passionate burst of tears, that seemed rather to convulse than re- 
lieve the bosom on which they fell, was the only answer Mary received 
to her cogent reasonings, and so evident was the suffering of the in- 
nocent culprit who appeared writhing under the discipline she inflicted, 
that nothing less deeply impressed on her heart than was the remem- 
brance of Edward and his mother, and the grief that threatened to 
destroy them both, could have given her courage to persevere. 

" Martha ! dear Martha ! Be reasonable !" cried Mary, throwing 
her arms round her. " If you knew what I suffered in making you 
suffer, you would pity me ! But I have no choice left me. I am not 
a free agent, Martha, any more than you are ; we are both bound in 
honour, honesty, Christian faith, and Christian mercy, not to let any 
feeling stop us till we have restored Michael Armstrong to his mo- 
ther." 

" Restore him !" sobbed Martha. " Alas ! Miss Brotherton, the poor 
woman herself has prevented the possibility of that ! Do you not 
know that he is apprenticed V 

" Let us but know where he is, Martha, and if the situation be one 

Q 2 



228 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



that his mother can reasonably disapprove, there can be little doubt 
but means may be taken to release him. Teach us but where to find 
him, dearest Martha," cried Mary fervently, " and we will all pray 
for blessings on your head !" 

" I cannot do it," replied Martha, with a sigh that very nearly 
approached a groan. 

"How know you that you cannot, Martha? Will you not try to 
learn this cruel, this nefarious secret?" 

" No, I will not, Miss Brotherton," replied the unhappy girl with 
sudden firmness. " If any wrong has been done to this boy, I know 
that it must rest upon my head. So let it. The remembrance of it 
may bring me to the grave, and there I shall find mercy and forgive- 
ness. But it shall not place me in rebellion to my father, nor force 
me to reveal any secrets which it may be his pleasure to keep. Now 
let me go, Miss Brotherton. I doubt not you have acted according to 
your sense of duty, and so have I. In this at least we are equal. 
Pray let me go ; I am not well, and greatly wish to be at home." 

Mary looked at her with surprise, and almost with terror ; she was 
as pale as death, and shook, as she stood up before her, as if she had 
been seized with an ague-fit. 

" Alas, Martha !" she exclaimed, " I have made you very miserable, 
and very ill, yet have gained nothing by it ! You shall go, my poor 
girl, you shall go instantly, but ere we part, let me implore you to ex- 
amine in silence, and alone, the question of right and wrong in this 
case. Paint to yourself the misery of the wretched mother, and re- 
member that yourself— I must say it, though I wring both our hearts 
as I do it — yourself, Martha Dowling, are the cause of it." 

" You have said enough, Miss Brotherton, to destroy my peace for 
ever," replied the miserable girl, " but not enough to make me act as 
a spy upon my father. Farewell ! Do not let us meet again! It is 
too painful." 

Without waiting for an answer, Martha Dowling wrapped her shawl 
about her and hurried to the door. 

" The carriage is not waiting, Miss Dowling," said the vexed and 
disappointed Mary, who had gained nothing from this painful inter- 
view, but the conviction that the well-intentioned, but erring Martha, 
was as much persuaded of the boy's having been unfairly dealt with, 
as herself. " Let me order the carriage for you." 

" No, no, I cannot wait. I can walk. I know the way. Indeed I 
can stay no longer !" replied Martha, hurrying on, and closing the 
door of the room after her, and before Miss Brotherton could reopen 
it, she had already passed through the hall, and was almost running 
from the house. 

Mary lost not a moment in summoning a servant, and ordering 
the carriage to follow her with all speed, an order which was so well 
obeyed, that the unhappy Martha was overtaken ere she had walked a 
mile, and gladly did she then avail herself of it ; for by that time 
every other painful feeling was merged in the terror of having to ex- 
plain to her father the cause of her having so parted with Miss Bro- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 229 

therton, as to return unattended and on foot. " Perfect love castetfi 
out fear," and perfect fear may perhaps petrify the heart into a sort 
of unstruggling desperation ; but a union of the two reduces the mind 
to a state of slavery the most abject, leaving no strength whereby 
any healthful moral feeling can be sustained. Martha's whole care, 
on returning home, was to satisfy her father that nothing particular 
had passed in her interview with the heiress ; and, unfortunately for 
all parties, she succeeded. 

Miss Brotherton, meanwhile, mounted a little pony phaeton with 
Mrs. Tremlett, and with a heavy heart proceeded to Hoxley-lane. 
But, painful as was her errand, her condition was a far happier one 
than that of Martha Dowling ; for in her there was no mixture of 
motives to paralyze every word and act. Her kind heart sought and 
found counsel in her sound and upright judgment, and, sustained by it, 
she executed her task without shrinking. A little reflection on the 
subject convinced her that it was now become her duty to confess to 
her poor client, not only that her exertions to discover the abode of 
Michael had been unsuccessful, but that she began to fear that there 
must be some unpleasant reason for the difficulties thrown in the way 
of obtaining the information she had sought. It required some cou- 
rage to utter this"; but when it wasdone, Mary was surprised to perceive 
that its effect, both upon the mother and son was very trifling. Having 
-candidly stated her fears, she remained silent, the eyes of both being 
fixed upon her with a sort of quiet hopelessness that was perhaps 
more painful to contemplate than more vehement demonstrations of 
grief. 

" Our thanks are not the less due to you, ma'am," said the widow 
gently, " and don't vex your kind heart by thinking that we are dis- 
appointed. Edward and I guessed true from almost the first ; that is, 
from when he was taken off without bidding us good-bye. Sir Mat- 
thew is known better by his mill people, ma'am, than by the great 
gentry that turns their eyes away from labour and sorrow, to revel and. 
grow fat upon our graves. You would never be like to hear the truth 
from them, and I am told that even now, the country round rings with 
praises of Sir Matthew's goodness to Michael. Tis bitter to hear it. 
But it is God's will our portion should be bitter here. He has power 
to make it up to us hereafter, and it is there we must fix our hope." 

" Most sure and most blessed is that hope !" replied Mary, fervently, 
lt yet it should never check our efforts to put to profit the means of 
happiness he has granted to us here. I have now told you the very 
worst, Mrs. Armstrong, for I have told you not only all I know but 
all I fear — nor will I again pledge myself to do more than I am quite 
sure it is in my power to perform. I think you will believe, without my 
talking about it, that I shall not give up the search I have undertaken. 
But till some new light reaches us, we should but waste our time, and 
wear our spirits by speaking on the subject. Let us rather think and 
speak of the welfare of the dear boy that is left you ; this will be no 
'hindrance to our restoring his brother, if it be God's will that we 



230 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

should have the power. Tell me, Edward, how did you get on at 
school to-day?" 

" Every body was kind to me," answered the boy. 

" That's well, dear boy, and every body will be kind to you. He 
looks nicely in his new clothes, does he not, Mrs. Armstrong?" 

M He does indeed, ma'am ! and I could almost fancy that he 
looked better in health already, for having left the mill," replied the 
widow. 

u And I feel better," said Edward, looking at his mother with his 
soft thoughtful eyes, " and I don't think that it would be impossible 
for me to grow well again." 

" My boy ! my boy !" cried the poor cripple, raising herself in her 
bed, and throwing her arms around him. " Should I dare to complain 
of any thing if that were possible ! But oh ! Teddy ! wouldn't he 
have given one of his little hands to see it V 

This appeal, which in truth only echoed the thoughts of his own 
heart, overthrew all the courage of Edward, and his tears again flowed 
as fast as those of his poor mother ; a renewal of weakness of which 
they might both have been still more ashamed than they were, had 
they not perceived that neither Miss Brotherton nor her old friend had 
dry eyes. 

Mary, however, was too wise to let this last. 

" This dear boy," said she, " has said that which ought to give us 
all courage. I can hardly tell you the delightful feeling which the 
hope of his restoration to health would give me. It would repay me 
a thousand fold for all the pain I have suffered. Let us fix our 
thoughts on this hope, and trust me it shall be realized, if medical 
skill and kind treatment can do it." 

It was with this assurance she left them, and if any earthly promise 
could have healed the anguish of the mother's heart, it would have 
been this. But her two children were so twined and twisted together 
in her thoughts, that meditating upon her hopes for Edward inevitably 
brought her terrors for Michael before her, and it was but with a 
jfitful sort of satisfaction that the boy dwelt upon his anticipations of 
being useful to her, or that she listened to him. 

Two days after this, while Miss Brotherton and Mrs. Tremlett were 
pursuing their usual morning occupations in the boudoir, a servant an- 
nounced that a lady and gentleman were in the drawing-room. 

Had the announcement been of a gentleman alone, Mary's thoughts 
would have instantly suggested Mr. Bell, for they had been fixed upon 
him, and the hope of his coming, through both the preceding days. 
But the mention of the lady puzzled her. Nevertheless the gentleman 
was Mr. Bell, and no other, and the frank and simple kindness with 
which he said, as he led the lady forward to meet her, " Miss 
Brotherton ! I wanted my wife to know you too," rendered the in- 
troduction as agreeable as it was unexpected. 

" If you and I, my dear young lady," said he, " take to consulting^ 
together concerning what we may hope, and what we may do in aid of 
the suffering people by whom we are surrounded, we shall do well to 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 231 

take this good little woman into the committee, for she has probably 
more practical knowledge of the subject we were discussing when last 
we met, than any other lady you could meet with." 

Equally cordial and sincere was the welcome Mary gave to her new 
friends ; and if sympathy of feeling, and a community of interest, on 
a subject of deep importance to them all, could have sufficed to make 
them happy, the long morning they passed together would have been 
one of great enjoyment ; but they were all too much in earnest to be 
called happy while dwelling upon the frightful subject to which their 
thoughts were turned. The longer Mary listened to those whose lives 
were past in struggling to assuage the misery around them, and in 
battling with the horrid principles which produced it, the more deeply 
did she feel that she, too, was called upon to labour in the same thorny 
vineyard. Yet terrible as were the subjects they discussed, and sad 
as was the conviction that no power less mighty than that of the law 
could redress the evils they deplored, there was still something inex- 
pressibly soothing to her feelings, in finding herself thus in intimate 
relation with persons who comprehended and shared in the sentiments 
which had become so essentially a part of herself. Though her con- 
science had told her, from the first moment her attention had been 
called to the subject, that it was her duty not to turn away from it, she 
had hitherto met little but opposition from those around her, and 
though steadfast and firm in purpose, she had often felt heavy in spirit 
from knowing herself to be alone, when she so much wanted assistance 
and support. This oppressive loneliness she could never suffer from 
again, as long as Mr. Bell and his excellent wife were within her reach, 
and fervently did she bless the courage which had led her to their 
dwelling. Tidings of poor Michael, however, there were none. Mr. 
Bell had sought information concerning him wherever he thought it 
possible to obtain them, but he had learnt nothing. Nevertheless he 
declared himself by no means satisfied that the boy might not be at 
some one of the Bastiile-like establishments to which he had applied. 
*' I know them, and they know me too well," he said, " for me to 
place implicit confidence in any answer they may be pleased to make, 
to any question I may venture to ask. If 1 knew where to find a trust- 
worthy stranger, who could not by possibility be recognised by any one 
as a friend of mine, I still think the chances would be greatly in favour 
of our finding the boy at some of the noted apprenticing establish- 
ments which I have named. But, in truth, I know not where to look 
for such a person." 

" Am I not such a one ?" cried Mary, eagerly. " Hardly a creature 
in the world, beyond the town of Ashleigh and its neighbourhood, 
knows me personally, and in all such places as those you have named, 
the Emperor of all the Russias would not be less likely to be recog- 
nised." v 

" But how, my dear young lady, could you represent yourself with 
any face of probability as interested in the inquiries you would have- 
to make ?" demanded Mr. Bell. 

" Methinks, Mr. Bell," replied Mary, colouring with her own enthu- 



232 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

siasm, — " methinks I could carry through an enterprise which had the 
recovery of little Michael for its object, with a degree of diplomatic 
skill that would surprise you. It should not be by downright and 
direct inquiry that I should proceed. Where such inquiry would be 
likely to excite suspicion, I would only contrive to insinuate myself 
and my eyes, and would ask no questions save what they should 
answer." 

" Many strangers, travelling, desire to see the factories, certainly," 
replied Mr. Bell, musingly. " But you are so young to undertake a 
wandering expedition. And then, how could you be accompanied? 
Your servants would unquestionably announce you every where." 

" I am older, 1 think, than you suppose," replied Mary ; " and if 
I undertake this, I will be accompanied by Mrs. Tremlett, with whom I 
have no reserves, and by no one else." 

" You cannot travel without attendants, Miss Brotherton ?" said, 
the clergyman, looking at her kindly, but as if doubting that she was 
quite in earnest. 

" Do not either of you judge me harshly," replied "the heiress, 
with great earnestness ; "do not set me down in your judgments as 
a hot-headed girl, indifferent to the opinions of society, and anxious 
only to follow the whim of the moment. Did I belong to any one, I 
think I should willingly yield to their guidance. But I am alone in 
the world ; I have no responsibilities but to God and my own consci- 
ence, and the only way I know of, by which I can make this desolate 
sort of freedom endurable, is by fearlessly, and without respect to any 
prejudices or opinions whatever, employing my preposterous wealth in 
assisting the miserable race from whose labours it has been extracted. 
If you can aid me in doing this, you will do me good ; but you will 
do me none, Mr. Bell, by pointing out to me the etiquettes by which 
the movements of other young ladies are regulated. I cannot think 
that I have any right to a place among them ; and I therefore feel that 
to check any possible usefulness by a constant reference to the usages 
of persons with whom I have little or nothing in common, would be 
putting on very heavy harness, neither effective for use, nor for orna- 
ment. But t something too much of this.' I must not talk of my- 
self," she added, cheerfully. " Let us examine the possibility of my 
setting off with Mrs. Tremlett on a little home tour, without announcing 
the important event to the neighbourhood, or taking any servants with 
me to enact the part of Fame behind my chariot." 

" By what conveyance would you propose to travel, Miss Brother- 
ton?" inquired Mr. Bell, still looking, as an American would say, "as 
if he could not realize the scheme." 

Mary meditated for a moment, and then replied — " In the first in- 
stance, if you and Mrs. Bell will permit it, we shall go to your house 
in the same manner a sbefore, only carrying with us a small travelling- 
trunk or so, such as would be necessary if we were going to pass a 
week with you. On the following morning we would set off by the 
* * * coach, in which you will secure places for us. At * * * we 
will order dinner and beds, like any other travellers, and inquire of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 233 

the waiter what will be the best way of getting a sight of the 
factories." 

"And he will tell you that such and such factories — naming pre- 
cisely those in which there would not be the slightest chance of find- 
ing the boy — may be seen by application made to Mr. So-and-so," 
said Mr. Bell. 

Mary coloured, and seemed about to answer him ; but, either from 
consciousness that she had nothing very satisfactory to reply, or be- 
cause she had some notion in her head not sufficiently digested to 
communicate, she changed her purpose, and instead of combating an 
objection which seemed almost fatal, drew from her pocket a set of 
little ivory tablets, on which she had written the names of all the esta- 
blishments within a distance of twenty miles, notorious for taking ap- 
prentices, and of retaining them by means that converted the scene of 
their labour into a most strict and wretched prison-house. She read 
their names aloud. " These, 1 think, were all you mentioned to me V* 
said she. " I think they were," replied Mr. Bell. " But to these, 
believe me, you will get no admission as a visiter." 

" Will you admit me as a visiter, if I come to you the day after to- 
morrow, Mrs. Bell ?" said the heiress, playfully, and apparently wishing 
to wave any further discussion of her projects. 

" Most joyfully !" was the kind and hospitable reply. 

•' Then, for the rest we must trust to chance. And now, if you will 
let me, I will show you my pretty garden," said Miss Brotherton, 
rising, and taking from a chair by the open window the ever-ready 
shawl and parasol, which made her lawns and shrubberies essentially 
a part of her dwelling-place. " Of all the fine things I possess, I 
believe I am only truly thankful for this," she continued, ** I hardly 
know how I should pass my life if I had not a garden." 

The garden was indeed one that spoke of its owner's love, by a multi- 
tude of enjoyable nooks that seemed all courting her approach, and by 
that perfection of elegant neatness which is never found in an equal 
degree where the mistress is indifferent respecting it. To her new 
friends' praises of all this she listened with pleasure, and sketched many 
pleasant plans for future meetings, when they should not, as they de- 
clared unavoidable now, remain only while their horse was resting. 
But Mary said not a word more on the subject of her purposed expe- 
dition till the very moment of their departure, and then it was only to 
remind them that they would see her come with her friend to claim 
their promised hospitality on the next day but one. This was received 
with renewed promises of a joyful welcome, and so they parted. 

The next day was a busy one for Mary. In the first place she was 
closeted for at least two, hours after breakfast with Mrs. Tremlett, and, 
whatever might be the subject of their conversation, it appeared to end 
satisfactorily, for when it was over Mary embraced her old friend very 
cordially, saying, " I feel more grateful, much more grateful, than I 
have words to express, nurse Tremlett, and never shall I forget your 
kindness to me !" 

After this they drove to the entrance of Hoxley-lane, and walked 



234 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

thence to pay a farewell visit to Mrs. Armstrong:; and here it was evi- 
dent that, however wild the projects might be which the heiress had 
conceived, she knew how to be discreetly silent concerning them, for 
after bestowing upon the widow a gratuity sufficient to supply all her 
wants for a longer time than she purposed to be absent, she took leave 
of her, saying, " You will not see me again Mrs. Armstrong for a week 
or more, I am engaged to go from home for that time ; but I shall take 
care that Edward shall receive as much attention at the school as if I were 
at home. Be sure also, that my absence will not make me the less 
mindful of Michael. Neither at home or abroad shall I cease to employ 
every means in my power to obtain intelligence concerning him." 

To Edward, whom she visited at the school, she gave the same 
assurance, adding an earnest injunction that he should keep in mind 
the necessity of exerting himself, both for the industrious prosecution 
of his studies, and the not less important regulation of his mind on the 
subject of his brother's absence, the welfare of his mother greatly de- 
pending upon both. Weakness of every kind seemed to vanish before 
the powerful stimulant thus offered, and she left her little protege 
comforted and invigorated by the belief that he had a great duty to 
perform, and that his mother was the object of it. 

The preparations for her own and her friends' convenience during the 
journey were very simple, but they puzzled her maid considerably. 
First, it was so very odd that she should be going out upon a visit and 
take absolutely no dinner dresses at all with her ; and secondly, it was, 
if possible, odder still, that she should not take her. But Mary listened 
to all the hints and innuendoes to which these feelings gave rise with a 
sort of gentle indifference, which was doubtless very provoking, till at 
length she was induced to damp the curiosity, which she feared might 
prove inconveniently active during her absence, by saying, " I am going 
to visit the family of a clergyman, Morgan, and, as much dress will not 
be necessary, I shall not want you." 

This was perfectly satisfactory. " A clergyman's family, where much 
dress would not be necessary, was where the lady's maid never did nor 
never could want to go." 

Nothing could have been more judicious than these explanatory 
words. They accorded perfectly with the report of the servants who 
attended the carriage, and so completely satisfied the household, that, 
though it was the first absence of so long duration that she had made 
from her home since she became mistress of it, it fortunately led to no 
gossipings whatever. 

We must not pause to describe the pleasant sociable evening passed 
by our travellers at the house of Mr. Bell, nor even relate all that 
was said in the course of it, concerning the expedition they were about 
to undertake. Every instruction, every hint which Mr. Bell believed 
might be useful, he gave clearly and succinctly, and not a word of it 
was lost upon Mary. 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 235 



CHAPTER XXII. 

MISS BROTHERTON SETS OFF ON HER TRAVELS, AND FEELS FRIGHTENED 

AT HER OWN TEMERITY BUT SPEEDILY RECOVERS HER COURAGE, 

AND PLAYS THE HEROINE SHE VISITS SOME FACTORIES, AND IS IN- 
TRODUCED TO A SUNDAY-SCHOOL SHE APPROACHES THE PRECINCTS 

OF THE DEEP VALLEY. 

It was about nine o'clock on a bright autumn morning that Miss 
Brotherton and her faithful nurse mounted into a lumbering six-inside 
vehicle, bound for * * *. Their two small trunks, with " Mrs. Trem- 
lett, passenger ," modestly written on both, were safely lodged on the 
top ; Mr. Bell gave them a silent blessing and a silent nod ; the horse- 
boy vociferated " all right," and the richest young lady in Lancashire 
rolled off, very literally in search of adventures. 

The novelty of her situation, and of her sensations of every kind, the 
unceremonious examination bestowed upon her by a smart young clerk 
who sat opposite, the anxious look of Mrs. Tremlett's usually tranquil 
face, and the consciousness that the enterprise she was upon must 
even by herself be characterized as wildly extravagant, if not carried 
through with much steady courage and discretion, altogether produced 
a feeling of oppression on her heart that very nearly overcame her. " Am 
I acting rightly in thus exposing myself?" was the question that her 
startled nerves suggested : and had her conscience been unable to 
answer it boldly and promptly, her condition would have been really 
pitiable. Happily, however, this was not the case. There was some 
feminine timidity about Mary Brotherton, but not an atom of false 
shame or affectation of any kind. " Yes ! — I am right !" was the 
answer recorded on her heart of hearts, " and shame to me if I shrink 
at the first step, for no better reason than because the dust flies, and 
a vulgar young man stares me in the face." 

From that moment Mary recoiled no more ; and a little resolute 
meditation on her object, and of the strength demanded to obtain it, so 
effectually restored her usual self-possession, that she looked round 
upon her fellow-travellers with as little embarrassment as if she had 
been used to travel in public all her life, nodded to Mrs. Tremlett with 
an encouraging smile, and thought how very silly people were who 
fancied that every thing unusual must of necessity be terrible. 

"Are you going all the way to * * *, miss?" said a goodnatured- 
looking woman who sat bodkin between the smart clerk and Mrs. 
Tremlett. 

" Yes, ma'am, I am," replied Mary, civilly, 

The good-natured woman twisted herself round to reconnoitre Mrs. 
Tremlett. 

" Your mamma, I suppose, my dear V 

" No, ma'am — the lady is a friend !" 



236 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



u Oh ! I ask your pardon ; you are so very much alike made me 
say it." 

Mary bowed— Mrs. Tremlett smiled. 

The goodnatured-looking woman persevered in the same train of 
pertinent observation, sometimes addressed to one passenger, and 
sometimes to another, so as to prevent the party from sinking into total 
silence, which might otherwise, perhaps, have happened. But Mary 
bore her share in this trifling annoyance with perfect good-humour ; 
and when at length they arrived at* * *, and Mrs. Tremlett asked her 
in rather piteous accents, the moment they were alone together, whether 
she did not feel dreadfully worn out, she cheerfully replied, 

" Not the least in the world, my dear friend." 

" Thank God !" replied the old woman, fervently, " I know you do 
so hate to be bothered, Mary, that I was afraid that old fool would 
put you out of all patience." 

" Times are altered with me now, nurse Tremlett," replied Mary ; 
" I have left off living for myself, and I feel my temper improving 
already by it. Now, then, ring the bell, and give your orders ; remem- 
ber, nurse, you are the great lady, and must order every thing." 

Encouraged by this cheerful submission to circumstances, which 
was in truth somewhat more than she expected, Mrs. Tremlett began 
to think that Mary might indeed prove capable of carrying through 
the scheme, the first sketch of which had appeared so wild, that nothing 
short of a devotion to her will, which knew no bounds, could have 
surmounted her averseness to it. 

" My darling child !" cried the old woman, looking at her with equal 
admiration and delight, " your mind is as strong as your heart is 
tender, and never will I again oppose my silly ignorance to any thing 
you wish to do." 

It was not difficult in this first stage of their expedition to follow 
exactly the plan that had been laid down. The two ladies professed 
themselves to be travellers, anxious to see all objects of curiosity, and 
particularly the factories, which were, as they observed, so famous 
throughout all the world. The master of the hotel where they lodged 
exerted himself with the utmost civility to gratify so natural a desire, 
and Mrs. Tremlett and Mary were accordingly promenaded, on the 
following morning, through one of the largest establishments of the 
town. It is probable, from the drowsiness of the public mind on the 
subject, that many travelling strangers who are in like manner led by 
a skilful official through the various floors of a factory, retire from the 
spectacle they present without having any feeling of sympathy excited 
by the cursory glance they have thrown over the silent unobtrusive 
little beings, one moment of whose unchanging existence they have 
been permitted to witness. It is the vast, the beautiful, the elaborate 
machinery by which they were surrounded that called forth all their 
attention, and all their wonder. The uniform ceaseless movement, 
sublime in its sturdy strength and unrelenting activity, drew every eye, 
and rapt the observer's mind in boundless admiration of the marvel- 
lous power of science ! No wonder that along every line a score of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 237 

noiseless children toiled, unthought of, after the admirable machine . 
Strangers do not visit factories to look at them ; it is the triumphant 
perfection of British mechanism which they come to see, it is of that 
they speak, of that they think, of that they boast when they leave the 
life-consuming process behind them. The more delicate, and (alas !) 
living springs by which the Great Artificer has given movement to 
the beings made in his own image, are not worth a thought the while. 
The scientific speculator sees nothing to excite his intellectual acumen 
in them ; he hardly knows that they are there, but gazes with enthu- 
siasm and almost reverence on the myriads of whirling spindles amidst 
which they breathe their groans, unheeded, and unheard. 

But it was not thus that Mary won her way through the whirling 
hissing world of machinery into which she now entered for the first 
time in her life. The hot and tainted atmosphere seemed to weigh 
upon her spirits, as well as upon her lungs, and the weary aspect of the 
Drakes, and the failing joints of Edward Armstrong became fearfully 
intelligible as she watched the children (and she watched nothing else) 
who dragged their attenuated limbs along. Then it was that Mr, Bell's 
tremendous statement of the number of suffering beings thus employed 
came with full force upon her mind. She would have given years of 
existence at that moment, could she have believed it false. Two 
hundred thousand little creatures, created by the abounding mercy of 
God, with faculties for enjoyment so perfect, that no poverty short of 
actual starvation can check their joy so long as innocence and liberty 
be left them ! Two hundred thousand little creatures, for whose free- 
dom from toil during their tender years the awful voice of nature has 
gone forth, to be snatched away, living and feeling, from the pure 
air of heaven, while the beautiful process is going on by which their 
delicate fabric gradually strengthens into maturity, — taken for ever from 
all with which their Maker has surrounded them for the purpose of 
completing his own noblest work — taken and lodged amidst stench and 
stunning, terrifying tumult, — driven to and fro, till their little limbs bend 
under them — hour after hour, day after day — the repose of a moment 
to be purchased only by yielding their tender bodies to the fist, the 
heel, or the strap of the overlooker ! All this rushed together upon 
poor Mary's f heart and soul, and, turning deadly pale, she seized the 
arm of her friend to save herself from falling. 

" Terrible hot day !" roared their conductor, in the hideous scream 
by which some human voices can battle successfully with the din of 
machinery. 

Fortunately, they were near the door of the room, and Mrs. Trem- 
lett, urging her steps forward, now brought her to an open window 
outside it. The fresh air, so carefully excluded within,* soon revived 
her : the colour returned to her lips, and having remained silently in- 

* Except in the mills of Messrs. Wood and Walker, at Bradford, it is difficult 
to find any factory properly ventilated — free admission of air being injurious to 
many of the processes carried on in them. 



238 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

haling the breeze for another minute or two, she signified her wish to 
proceed. 

" Not now, Mary ! Pray, not now !" said the frightened Mrs. 
Tremlett, " Indeed, indeed, you have not strength for it !" 

Mary gave her one steady look, and the opposition ceased ; for it 
said as plainly as look could speak — " Is it thus that I shall find 
Michael Armstrong?" 

u For a moment I felt the heat oppressive," said Miss Brotherton, 
in a voice of very steady composure. " But I am quite sure the sen- 
sation will not return. I came to * * * on purpose to see the factories, 
my dear friend, and, indeed, you must not disappoint me/' 

" The young lady's right," replied their conductor. " She'll never 
see the like of our mills, you may depend upon that. Why all the 
machinery in the known world put all together won't equal one of our 
spinning-mills. There is nothing in creation to compare to it ; and I 
don't question but the young lady heard as much before she come. 
So it would be altogether wrong to disappoint her of the sight 
of 'em." 

" Thank you," said Mary. " Are we to go up stairs now V 
(i Yes, if you please, miss. We have got seven stories here, and, 
thank God, all is busy just now, one as the other, from the bottom to 
the top." 

On entering the second room Mary felt, as she expected, that her 
bodily strength was quite sufficient to sustain her. She had not 
habituated herself to " seek the sun upon the upland lawn," for 
nothing. Few girls so lapped in luxury could boast of equal vigour 
and activity. The first aspect of the system (the horrors of which had 
been so clearly explained to her) in action, was for a moment over- 
whelming — but it was past — the terrible " premier pas" could not come 
again , and far from shrinking from the task she had imposed upon 
herself, she left the enormous fabric, after having perseveringly mounted 
to its summit, with the satisfactory conviction that she should not fail 
in her enterprise either from want of strength, or from want of will. 

Good Mrs. Tremlett, however, still felt less confident upon the subject, 
and no sooner found herself tete-a-tete with her young mistress within 
the shelter of their drawing-room, than she said, "You will never stand 
it, Miss Mary ! — feeling about it all as you do — the sight of those poor 
ragged, sickly little souls will be the death of you." 

" Then so let me die, dear nurse !" replied Mary. " If I have not 
vigour enough both of mind and body to be in some degree useful, I 
should hardly think it worth while to live ; but I know myself better, 
nurse Tremlett. I turned sick and giddy, I confess, on entering that 
first room, but it is my friend, Mr. Bell, who has to answer for it. The 
impressions received at that moment by my senses served as a specimen 
of all the horrors he had described to me. The account I had heard 
enabled me at a glance to comprehend the scene before me, while that 
scene itself acted back again, as it were, upon my memory, making me 
understand, a thousand times more clearly than before, all the frightful 
details he had given me. The effect of this was overpowering, but it 




w^mm 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 239 

cannot return upon me again in the same manner; I am already 
hardened. Think therefore no more of me, dear friend, but let us 
cogitate together upon the likeliest way of turning all such visits to 
account." 

This cogitation led them both to the conclusion that it might, for the 
sake of appearances, be as well to take the landlord's recommendation 
to another of the establishments, usually pointed out to the attention of 
strangers, and then to consult the ivory tablets, and venture upon a 
visit to the only one near * * * named therein, as notorious for the 
reception of apprentices. 

In pursuance of this plan, the waiter was again interrogated when he 
attended the ladies at their luncheon, and again he brought a written 
address from his master, accompanied by a message intimating that the 
following morning being Sunday, the ladies might have the advantage 
of visiting the Sunday-school attached to the factory, for which he had 
given the address, to a sight of which they would be admitted without 
difficulty, if they would make known their wishes for such admission to 
the person who would show them the factory. 

" There is a Sunday-school attached to the establishment?" said 
Mary in an accent of great satisfaction. " Yes, miss," replied the man, 
" Messrs. Robert and Joseph Tomlins, the serious gentlemen as owns 
the factory, has built a school-room altogether at their own expense, 
and attends their ownselves in person every Sunday morning to see 
that both master and children puts the time to profit. Their factory 
is about a mile or so out of the town, but master says as he can let you 
have a carriage very reasonable." 

" I should wish to go there by all means," replied Mary, " desire the 
carriage may be got ready for us directly." 

The man left the room to obey her. 

«' Thank Heaven !" exclaimed Mary, as the door closed behind him, 
u there is, then, some Christian feeling still left among them here, as well 
as at Bradford. We shall not here, at least, be shocked by witness- 
ing such degrading ignorance as that of the poor Drakes. — They are 
treated like Christian children, at any rate." 

" Most surely it is a pleasure to hear of it, my dear," replied Mrs. 
Tremlett, " and it is quite as well, Mary, that we have got to ride to it — 
at least if you feel like me, my dear." 

Less than half an hour's drive brought the travellers to a large factory, 
which, whatever it might be within, was on the outside, though in itself 
as grim as coal-smoke could make it, surrounded by a fine expanse of 
rural scenery. In answer to their" application at the gates they were 
civilly desired to walk in, and presently found that the routine of exhi- 
bition was precisely similar to that of the morning. It struck them 
both, however, that if possible, the children looked more worn and 
weary, more miserably lean, and more frightfully pallid, than those they 
had seen before ; nevertheless Mary failed not, when taking leave of their 
couductor, to request permission to attend the Sunday-school on the 
morrow. 

" Certainly !" was the reply, pronounced in a tone as clearly an- 



240 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

nouncing the speaker's connexion witbt he party self-styled evange- 
lical, as the broadest Irish brogue does the birthright of the speaker to 
call himself a son of the Emerald Isle. "Certainly! the Lord forbid 
that Christian women should ask to be present at the doings of the 
godly and be refused V? 

On inquiringthe hour at which they should be there, the man replied, 
" As the clock in the tower of the Lord's house strikes seven, Mr. 
Joseph Tomlins, by the blessing of God, will begin to speak the exhor- 
tation. The prayer will follow from the lips of Mr. Robert, and then 
the schooling will begin." 

" We must be here, then, exactly at seven V* said Mary. 
" Ten minutes earlier, would be more decent time," replied the man, with 
a gravity of aspect that approached a frown, " our gentlemen are very 
strict as to their hours in all things." 

They civilly promised to be very punctual, and departed. The 
factory was built on the side of a hill, so steep, that the back part of 
it, to which the shed used as a school-room was attached, could not be 
safely approached by a carriage ; Miss Brotherton, therefore, and her old 
friend, on arriving at the bottom of the hill on the following morning, 
got out, and, desiring the vehicle to await their return, proceeded on 
foot by the path pointed out to them as " the way to Master Tomlin's 
school." The ladies were more than punctual, for it still wanted a 
quarter to seven, they therefore seated themselves on a fallen tree by 
the road side, and watched the arrival of one or two miserable-looking 
children who werelaggingly approaching the spot. 

" You look half asleep my poor child !" said Mary, laying her hand 
on the shoulder of a little girl, who ragged, pale, half-washed, and with 
eyes half- closed, was being dragged onward by an older child, a boy, 
apparently about ten years old. 

" She be so hard asleepby times, "said the boy ," that I can't get her on." 

" But why is that, my dear?^surely seven o'clock is not so very 
early !" said Mary. 

" We were all to the mill till five minutes afore twelve," said the 
boy, making another effort to pull his sister onward. 

" How ! — do you mean to tell me that you were working at mid- 
night ?" demanded Mary. 

" Five minutes afore twelve we stopped — 'cause it was Sunday," 
replied the boy. * ■ Come along Peggy !" he added with another stout 
tug, " I shall catch it to-morrow from the looker if I'se too late for the 
'sortation." 

The little girl who had fallen fairly asleep, during this short delay, 
being thus roused again, stumbled onwards, leaving Mrs. Tremlett and 
Mary alike undeceived as to the humanity of instituting a school to be 
carried on under such regulations. They determined, however, to 
witness with their own eyes the operation of teaching children to read, 
who were fast asleep, and walking on -came within sight of the school- 
room door just as Mr. Joseph Tomlins showed himself on the step 
before it, with his watch in one hand and a bible in the other. 

" Wicked and ungrateful children I" he began, " Is this the way 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 241 

you obey your earthly master, who leaves his comfortable bed, and his 
breakfast untouched, to lead you to the feet of your heavenly one ! 
Wicked, idle, and ungrateful — " But at this moment Miss Brotherton 
and Mrs. Tremlett appeared in sight, and in a voice suddenly changed 
from reprobation into drawling softness, he went on, " Come unto Him 
little children — I forbid you not, but urge you w ith tender Christian 
love, early and late, late and early, to hear His word, and sing His 
praise." 

Here he stopped, and bowing to the ladies offered to lead them to a 
place where they might be well accommodated for the exhortation and 
and prayer, and for hearing the children also, if they wished it. 

As soon as they had entered the sort of pew to which Mr. Tomlins 
led them, the twenty or thirty miserable-looking children who were 
assembled in the room were called upon by a loud word of command 
to " Kneel!" and down they tumbled, the elder ones in several in- 
stances taking the little creatures already asleep beside them, and 
placing them on the floor as nearly as they could in the attitude com- 
manded. The sonorous voice of Mr. Joseph Tomlins was then heard 
pronouncing an exhortation, intended to show that obedience to their 
earthly masters was the only way of saving children from the eternal 
burning, prepared for those who were disobedient, in the world to come. 

Mary, as she looked earnestly round upon every child present, 
greatly doubted if there was one sufficiently awake to listen to this ; 
and in her heart she blessed the heaviness which saved them from hearing 
the mercy of their Maker blasphemed. A prayer followed this exhort- 
ation, as little like what a prayer ought to be, as was the preparation 
of the little congregation who listened to it for bearing part in a 
religious ceremony. Still Mary Brotherton waited to the end, nor left 
her station till the nominal business of instruction had proceeded 
sufficiently to convince her that poor Sophy Drake's account was 
strictly true when she said " keeping our eyes open Sundays wasn't 
possible, 'cause they didn't strap us." The children were not strapped, 
and consequently they were, with very few exceptions, literally fast 
asleep during the hour and half that this ostentatious form of instruction 
was going on. 

Unwilling to attract more notice than was necessary, Miss Bro- 
therton and her companion remained till the drowsy tribe were roused, 
awakened, and dismissed by the loud voice of Mr. Joseph Tomlins, 
and then they also slipped away, regained the carriage that waited for 
them, and returned to * * *. 

" Now then," said Mary, as their one horse dragged them deli- 
berately along, " now then, dear Tremlett, our search must really begin. 
As soon as we have breakfasted we will set off in this same equipage 

for Mill, that being the first on my list where apprentices are 

taken, and, moreover, within a morning's drive of * * *." 

" And how shall you endeavour to gain admittance my dear?" 
demanded her friend. 

" As we did yesterday — merely stating that we are strangers, tra- 
velling, who are desirous of seeing the factories," replied Mary. 

R 



242 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



" But you don't expect to get in, my dear, do you ? — after all Mr. 
Bell told you about apprentices !" exclaimed Mrs. Tremlett. 

" Probably not," was the answer, " and in that case, my dear woman, 
you know what is to happen. " 

" You are really in earnest then, Miss Mary?" rejoined her friend 
in an accent which betrayed some nervousness. " You really mean to 
do all you said when we were shut up together?" 

" Most certainly I do," replied Miss Brotherton, gravely. " Did you 
suppose I was jesting, nurse Tremlett, in what I then said to you ?" 

" Not jesting, Miss Mary. — No, certainly, not jesting. Only I 
thought that may be after a little more thinking about it you might 
change your mind." 

" You do not yet understand me, nurse !" said Mary, with vexation. 
" You do not yet comprehend how determined I am to persevere in the 
business I have undertaken." 

" Do not say so, dearest Miss Mary !" replied the old woman with 
emotion, " I do understand you, — I do know that you will leave no 
stone unturned to obtain your object, — and indeed, indeed, I love you 
a thousand times better than ever I did, and that is just because I 
do understand you ; only I did not feel quite sure that you would 
have courage." 

" We shall see, nurse Tremlett. Courage, I believe, often depends 
more upon the earnestness of the will than the strength of the nerves, ,r 
said Mary. 

Their attempt to get admittance to the apprentice factory was, as they 
both expected, abortive; they were told that no persons were admitted 
there except on business, and having nothing such to plead, they 
retreated as they had advanced, somewhat fearful lest their having 
taken so much trouble for nothing, might excite the alarming observa- 
tion, " It is very odd," on the part of their driver or some of his gossips. 

The distance was considerably greater than they had expected, and 
they had little more time on their return to * * *, than sufficed for 
securing places in a cross-country coach for the morrow, which would 
convey them to a small town named by Mr. Bell, within a morning's 
drive of which were two establishments known to receive apprentices, 
howsoever and wheresoever they could get them. 

Having again booked their places in the name of Tremlett, pre- 
pared their travelling luggage for a further progress, and taken a meal 
that served for dinner and tea in one, they went to rest. But it was 
long ere the excited mind of Mary permitted her to sleep ; nor did 
she, in fact, close her eyes till, after repeated consideration, she had 
decided totally to change the plan of operations she had fixed upon 
for the morrow. 

Mrs. Tremlett had not yet left her bed, when her young mistress 
appeared at the foot of it, on the following morning, with her ivory 
tablets in her hand. " Nurse Tremlett," she said, e< do you remember 
which, among all the places mentioned here, was the one Mr. Bell 
declared that he considered as the most likely for Sir Matthew to 
have selected, if his purpose was to keep the abode of Michael Arm- 
strong unknown?" 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 243 

" Dear me ! My dear Miss Mary ! Only think of your being up 
already and me lying abed so !" was the reply she received. 

" Never mind that, dear nurse. It is not getting-up lime yet — only 
I am restless. Do you remember the name of the mills Mr. Bell par- 
ticularly dwelt upon V 

" I dare say I might, Miss Mary, if I was to hear it spoken again," 
said the old woman, sitting up in bed, and endeavouring to feel 
awake. 

" Now then listen, dear soul, and stop me when you think I name 
the right." Mary then turned to her tablets, and read the names, 
with the descriptions of the localities inscribed there. It was not till 
she had reached the last in the list that Mrs. Tremlett again spoke, 
and then she exclaimed promptly, " That is it, Mary ! I am quite sure 
that is the place ! ' I will bet ten to one,' he said, ' that if Sir Mat- 
thew has been for putting the boy out of sight, Deep Valley Mill is 
where he will have lodged him.' Those were his words, Miss Mary — 
I could quite swear it." 

" I was pretty sure of it before, nurse Tremlett, but now no doubt 
can possibly remain. Hear me, then, my dear kind friend, and tell 
me truly if I am right or wrong. I settled last night, nurse, to set off 
and visit all these factories exactly in the order in which they are here 
set down. But, after I went to bed, it struck me that it would be 
surely better to begin with the place pointed out by our good friend as 
the most likely to afford success. I like the business quite as little as 
you do, nurse, and would gladly shorten it, if possible." 

" But, my dear, won't the stage we are going in take us the wrong 
way ?" 

" A little round about — but I see no objection in that ; we have no 
particular wish, you know, to have our course traced, and this setting 
off in one direction, when our purpose is to take another, must go far 
towards preventing it. So that you see we have no immediate change 
to make, and you have only to get up, and eat your breakfast in time 
to be ready for the coach, that is to stop for us here." 

" God bless your dear heart V said the old woman. " You think 
ten times more of me than you do of yourself, darling ! Little sleep 
last night, Mary, and getting up before any body else in the morning,, 
is not the way to be quite strong and composed by-and-by." 

" Fear nothing — I feel perfectly well, and greatly pleased by our 
change of plans. I have great faith in this visit to Deep Valley, and 
long to have the experiment made and over." 

Mary Brotherton was quite correct in her geography ; the place to 
which the coach conveyed them was at about the same distance from 
Deep Valley as from * * * ; and, without making any further inquiries 
concerning that mysterious spot, which indeed the memoranda received 
from Mr. Bell rendered quite unnecessary, she ordered a chaise, on 
quitting the stage-coach, to convey them to the nearest town at which 
he had stated that it would be likely they should find decent accommo- 
dation for the night. 

Both the young and the old lady were rather surprised, on reaching 

r 2 



244 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

this place, to find every house in it that offered public accommodation 
so poor and miserable looking, as to make them almost afraid to enter. 
Their driver, however, soon drew up to one which, upon Mrs. Trem- 
lett's inquiring if it were the best, he assured them, was not only the 
best, but the only one that ladies could find comfortable. " Here 
then we will get out," said Mary, courageously, and giving her friend 
an encouraging smile, she preceded her into a room that smelt strongly 
of tobacco- smoke, ale, and gin. 

" Can we have an up-stairs room that might be more open and airy 
like V*. said Mrs. Tremlett, looking anxiously at her young mistress. 

" To sleep in ?" demanded the woman who had received them. 

" A sitting-room, good woman, I mean," responded the meek- 
spirited Mrs. Tremlett, half frightened by the woman's look and accent. 

" What, this is not good enough, I suppose? Then you may trudge 
— it is good enough for your betters," replied the woman, looking 
most alarmingly sulky. Had the last been addressed to herself, Mary 
Brotherton would have thought it one of the duties imposed by her 
pilgrimage to endure it ; but, as it was, she slipped out of the dun- 
geon-parlour with great celerity, and reached the house-door before 
the postboy had succeeded in his attempts to untie the cord which 
fastened their trunks behind the chaise. Apparently hands were scarce 
at this unpromising hostelry, for he was performing the business alone, 
at which Mary greatly rejoiced, as it enabled her to address him un- 
observed. " This does not seem a comfortable house, my lad, that 
you have brought us to. Don't you think we might do better if we 
tried another?" 

" It be the best in the town," was the reply. 

" Then could you not drive us a mile or two out of it ?" said Mary, 
in a very coaxing voice. " We should like to sleep at any little 
country inn by the roadside a great deal better than this." 

" And how would my master's horses like it I wonder ?" said the post- 
boy. By this time Mary's purse was visible in her hand. The youth's 
countenance softened as he gazed upon it, and he presently gave an 
unequivocal symptom of relenting, by scratching his head. Miss Bro- 
therton held half-a-sovereign between her finger and thumb — " I will 
give you^this, she said, beyond the sum you are to receive for the horses ,'if 
you will drive us on to some clean country inn at which we could sleep." 

" Where is the old lady ?" demanded the boy in something like a 
whisper. 

" I will bring her out this moment," said she ; and, without waiting 
further parley, Mary flitted back again through the vapour of tobacco 
and spirits to rescue her old friend, — a deed of daring that found its 
reward in the look of gentle satisfaction with which her signal to quit 
the parlour was obeyed ; for Mrs. Tremlett was one who could not 
bandy words, and she had therefore endured, without intermission or 
resistance, as much insolence as could be compressed into the period of 
her abode in the apartment. 

" Why did you not follow me at once, dear nurse?" said Mary, as 
soon as the postboy had closed the carriage-door upon them. 




35 



•^// /x/// 



• 



////. - 



■„// 



r" 









OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 245 

" Bless you, my dear, I never thought of getting away again till to- 
morrow morning, and I staid with her to prevent her following you. 
How very glad I am we are got away safe and sound from that terrible 
woman ! How could you have the courage and cleverness to think of 
it, Mary ? Sure enough, dear, it is you that take care of me — and 
that's a shame, isn't it V* 

" It is but fair, nurse, that we should divide the labours of the road 
between us. It is you who always take care that we are not starved, 
and it is not too much in return that I should be watchful for your 
preservation from all the wild cats and tigresses we may chance to 
encounter." 

The postboy earned his golden gratuity, greatly to the contentment 
of its donor, by drawing up at a small but perfectly neat little man- 
sion, where milk-pans set on end to dry before the door offered a de- 
lightfulcontrasttoallthathad been visible atthe sign ofthe ThreeCrowns. 
The clean-coifed landlady looked a little surprised at being asked for 
sleeping-rooms by ladies entitled to so splendid a mode of travelling, 
but the demand being satisfactorily answered, they were quickly in- 
stalled in a parlour smelling of geraniums instead of gin, and giving 
orders for their evening meal to the bustling good woman of the house 
with an air of old acquaintanceship, that looked as if they had been 
her guests for a month. 

" Nothing was ever so fortunate as this, nurse Tremlett," said Mary, 
as soon as they were left alone ; " our stage-playing, as you are pleased 
to call it, must begin here. There is no danger that this kind simple- 
hearted creature should misdoubt a word we say, and if you will only 
perform your allotted part with your usual quiet good sense, I have no 
doubt but we shall reach her heart sufficiently to make her very useful. 
I do not ask you to say any thing — only look sufficiently interested to 
support the character I assign you." 

" Oh ! dear Miss Mary !" exclaimed Mrs. Tremlett, colouring, — " is 
it to begin already ?" 

The countenance of Miss Brotherton fell from an expression of great 
animation into that of deep despondency and disappointment, she 
found that all her difficulties with the old woman were about to be re- 
newed. "Oh! why, Mrs. Tremlett, if you are unequal to this, did you not 
honestly tell me so when I explained my purpose to you before we set out?" 
said she, with more of severity than she had ever used in addressing 
her during her whole life before, " I could then have taken measures 
to carry on this business without you. You know how deeply my heart 
is in it — I did not expect this weakness — I thought it was over!" 

" You are wrong, Miss Mary — you are mistaken altogether," re- 
plied Mrs. Tremlett, eagerly. «' I am neither weak nor silly, and so you 
shall see, if you won't be so very rash and hasty with me." 

By no means displeased at the energy with which the good woman 
defended herself, Mary replied, " Let me see this, Tremlett, and my 
love and value for you will increase a hundred fold." 

" Begin, then, as soon as you like, my dear, I am quite ready." 



246' THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

And, in saying this, the good old woman assumed an aspect as full of 
confidence and courage as her own. 

In a few minutes their repast, which a good dairy made luxurious, 
was before them, the landlady remaining in attendance to replenish the 
tea-pot, and so forth. 

Miss Brotherton's manners, though by no means remarkable to those 
in her own station for that perfect polish which guards every thing 
without, and every thing within, from disagreeable impressions, were 
always conciliatory and kind to all below her, and seldom was she 
waited upon by any one who would not have gladly retained that office 
near her. So it was with Mrs. Prescot of the King's Head ; the good 
woman lingered in the room, evidently because she liked being there, 
and taking advantage of this, Mary addressed her, venturing to give 
her the name she had read upon the sign. 

" We are in Derbyshire, are we not, Mrs. Prescot?" 

" Yes, miss ; this is Derbyshire, sure enough." 

" What distance is it from hence to Deep Valley ?" 

" What, the factory, miss, that is called Deep Valley Mill?" 

" Yes ; how far is it to that factory ?" 

" Why it is not over easy to say rightly, seeing that there is no direct 
road to it. It is a lonesome out-of-the-way place as ever human 
beings thought of taking to, and I can't say as much is knowed about 
it by any of the neighbours round. There is a cart-road, I believe, as 
goes right down to the mill, but the nearest way would be over them 
hills there, of course, because the factory is built down amongst the 
very middlemost of 'em," replied Mrs. Prescot. 

" Would the walk over the hills be too far for my aunt and me?" 
inquired Mary. 

" Oh dear yes, miss ! I should think so ! Besides, 'tis no place 
whatever for ladies to go to. The poor little creturs as bides there 
bean't no sight for them to look at; and, besides, nobody of any sort 
is ever let to look at 'em." 

" We must get there, somehow or other, Mrs. Prescot," said Mary ; 
" and I trust in God that we shall not be refused admittance, for our 
business is no common one." 

" You have got business at Deep Valley Mill?" demanded Mrs. 
Prescot, abruptly. 

" Indeed we have," replied Mary, " and, by some means or other, 
we must get in, and, what is more, we must see every apprentice 
they have." 

The woman shook her head . 

" I have had more than one lodging here for a night," said she, 
" who for some reason or other was curious to get inside of 
Deep Valley Mill. But I never knowed one of 'em that ever did 
more than get a look down upon it from the top of one of them 
mountainous hills out yonder ; and it's no easy matter, they 
say, to get to the right place even for that ; for, by what folks say, 
them as built the mills seem to think that they could puzzle the 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 247 

wicked one himself to find 'em out. But there's one eye as sees 
'em, if no other do." 

These last words were added in a mutter that might, or might not, 
be noticed, according to the pleasure of the parties within hearing. 
Mary did not notice them. 

" Could you have the kindness to tell us to 'whom 'we should apply 
for permission to go through the factory V said she. 

" Indeed, miss, I am happy to say I knows nothing about 'em, and 
if all's true as I've heard said over the ale-pot by the kitchen fire, the 
more people ask for leave, the less they are likely to get it. But may 
I make so bold, miss, as to ask the reason why such ladies as you wants 
■to get in there? It would only break your hearts ; and what's more, 
they've been having a horrid fever there, and that I know for certain, 
though they sent the poor little creturs off by night to be buried, some 
to one churchyard, and some to another, to stop people's tongues. It 
bean't no place, ladies, for you to go." 

'* When I tell you why we wish to enter there you will not say so," 

replied Mary. " The mill is worked by apprentice children, is it not?" 

" Yes, miss, the more's the pity — for that's what makes the poor 

wretches slaves for life — for not many of 'em, by all accounts, lives till 

their time is up." 

11 Hear me then, Mrs. Prescot — among those miserable apprentices we 
hope and expect to find a dear child who belongs to us." 

" Lack-a-day ! what a story-book that would make !" exclaimed Mrs. 
Prescot. " How long is it since you lost him ?" 

" It is a long time," replied Mary, evading the question, " and it is 
a long story to tell how it happened. He is my own brother — and 
this lady who is come with me is our aunt." 

" Are you quite sure, miss, that you shall find him there?" 
" How can I say that, Mrs. Prescot, when you tell me so many of 
the children are dead ?" replied Mary. " But so much do I think I 
shall, that I will give five sovereigns to any one who will only put me 
in the way to get admittance to the mill." 

Mrs. Prescot again shook her head. " There be a many and a many 
poor souls round about that would do amost any thing Jionest for such 
a reward ; but if any body told you they could do as much, they would 
only deceive you, I don't believe there is any body in the parish, not 
even the parson, could make 'em open their doors to let strangers in." 
" Do you think that the person who has the power to open them 
would do it for a hundred pounds?" demanded Miss Brotherton. 

" I can't take upon me to say, miss ; it sounds like a fortune to me 
— but they are all rich at Deep Valley, as folks say, managers, over- 
lookers, and all — so, may be they mayn't think so much of it." 

" Mrs. Prescot, I would give five hundred pounds, rather than not 
look over the children at Deep Valley Mill." 

The woman stared at her with a very natural mixture of curiosity 
and astonishment ; but there was a friendly interest in her eye, also. " It's 
late to-night, ma'am, to do anything," said she, " and if you'll be pleased 
to say nothing to nobody till my husband comes home, I don't know 



248 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

but what he may be as likely to think upon what would be the best 
way to set about it as any body ; not that he ever meddles or makes 
with the people of the mill in any way, but he's a good schollard, and a 
quick-witted man too, as ever I knowed, though I say it as shouldn't." 

This proposal was readily agreed to, and the interval till their host's 
return employed in a ramble of a mile or two along the road, where a 
recent shower had laid the dust, while every woodbine in the hedges 
which skirted it, sent forth a delicious perfume. The outline of the 
hills around them, though hardly deserving Mrs. Prescot's epithet of 
mountainous, was bold and picturesque, and the foreground, with its 
hanging levels and rich copses, altogether formed a scene of consider- 
able beauty. 

" All this is very pretty, my good Tremlett," said Mary, offering her 
arm to her old friend to assist her ascent of a steep hill, " and I should 
enjoy it greatly did I not fancy that could we look over yonder hill- 
tops we should see a hateful roof, excluding the sweet breath of evening 
from the helpless creatures it encloses." 

" God grant that you may snatch one of them from it, my dear 
child," replied the old woman ; li let that thought comfort you." 

" Should I succeed !" cried Mary, " should 1 indeed carry home that 
little fellow to his poor mother and my pretty Edward, I should 
certainly feel something approaching to perfect happiness ! But if I 
fail ! how shall I bear to meet them ?" 

" Think not of it, dear .! see how that last bit of sunshine comes full 
upon your face as you talk about it ; that is a sign my dear that you 
will have your wish." 

It was the last bit of sunshine, for the next moment the golden disk 
was hid behind a ridge of hills; yet they walked on for nearly a mile 
further, and, when they returned to the King's Head, they found the 
good man of the house already returned, and his supper, as his wife 
assured them, very nearly finished. " He shall come to you in half a 
minute, ladies, if you'll please to be seated, while I bring in the 
candles ; — I have told him all you said to me, and he don't seem so 
much put out about it, by much, as me, — but he's uncommon 'cute, as 
you'll find when you comes to talk to him." 

In about a quarter of an hour Mr. Prescot knocked at the parlour- 
door, and being properly introduced to the ladies by his wife, was left 
standing before them, while she retreated to pursue her various avo- 
cations. 

" Your wife has told you, Mr. Prescot, our reason for coming here V* 
said Miss Brotherton, glad to escape the repetition of her fictitious 
tale. 

" She has, ma'am," was the succinct reply. 

" And do you think it possible for us to obtain admission to Deep 
Valley Mill, and to go over it in such a manner as to give us an oppor- 
tunity of seeing all the children ?" 

" If I had heard that much, as to your purpose, ladies, and nothing 
more, I should have said no, you could no more get into Deep Valley 
factory than into the moon. But my missis added something to the 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 249 

back of it, as makes a difference." This was said with a look and 
accent which fully justified Mrs. Prescot's assurances of her good man's 
«' 'cuteness." 

" I think, Mr. Prescot, that she said no more than I am willing to 
make good," replied Mary. " I do not wish to expend money wantonly, 
but, if less will not serve, I am ready to give five hundred pounds to 
any person who could enable me to see all the children in Deep Valley 
Mill." 

"It is a longsum/miss," replied the man thoughtfully, " and I can't 
but fancy that less might serve. The people as is in authority there 
is bad people, I don't scruple to say it, and sooner than open their 
doors for pity towards any Christian soul, man, woman, or child, they 
would see 'em all in the bottomless pit. But 'tis just because they do 
all the wickedness we hears of, that I sees hope they may be bought to 
break their own laws ; for if they does one thing for the love of gold, 
they may do another. Tis plain enough to see, to be sure, that they 
knows it is for their interest to keep all eyes off their cruel goings- 
on — and what's for their interest they won't easily give up. — So it may 
be that squire Elgood Sharpton himself would turn away from five 
hundred pounds, rather than show off his poor miserable apprentices. — 
But that mayn't hold good for his agent, and I believe in my heart that, 
if we could quietly get to offer Woodcomb the manager a hundred 
pounds, you would not have long to wait for a sight of the children." 

" And how is this to be done, Mr. Prescot?" said Miss Brotherton, 
" if you can undertake to manage it, you may put what price you like 
on your services, I feel certain that you would not name a higher sum 
than I should be willing to pay." 

'* Why, as for me, miss, I must not be known to meddle or make in 
the matter. Squire Sharpton would have my licence away before I 
could say Jack Robinson. Any advice I can give is at your service, 
and I may be able to put you up, perhaps, to doing the thing in the 
likeliest way ; but as to my going to the mill, it won't do. One reason 
is, that I never was there before, and it's like enough that, seeing a 
stranger, they'd set the dogs at me before I had time to say my errand. 
No ! — that won't answer. The only man I can think of as would give 
us a chance is one Smith, the miller as serves 'em with oatmeal, and 
pretty stuff 'tis, as I've been told, which don't speak over- well for his 
honesty, you'll say, though, 'tis likely the price is in proportion. 
Howsomever, whether he be good or bad, I don't know another as 
comes and goes to Deep Valley as he does, and that's what makes 
me fix upon him as a messenger." 

" And when could I see this man ?" demanded Mary. 
■' " Why, betimes to-morrow, miss, there's no doubt, if I goes and 
gives him notice." 

" Then, do so Mr. Prescot, and be assured your trouble shall not 
be forgotten." 

" There is no fear of it, miss," replied the acute landlord with very 
honest sincerity, " and I'll go to the mill outright. But I think— 
you'll be pleased to excuse me for speaking my mind — that you two 



250 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

ladies must settle between yourselves what you'd be willing to give 
Timothy Smith himself for the job — seeing that he's not one to work for 
nothing ; — and another thing I'd make so free as to mention is, that 
you'd do well to make him understand that you don't want to get in- 
side their wicked den, but only to see the children, one and all of 'em 
— and then you know, miss, they may trim 'em and scour 'em up a 
little tor shame's sake, afore they brings 'em out/' 

Miss Brotherton, after this conversation, felt as fully convinced as 
the good wife herself could desire of the value of the landlord's head, 
and determined to be guided by his advice. After a little further con- 
versation between them, it was settled that she should write a note to 
Mr. Woodcomb, the manager, in readiness to give into the hands of 
Mr. Timothy Smith on the following morning, if she could prevail upon 
him to deliver it. 

Mr. Prescot performed his part of the business ably, for the portly 
miller was waiting for the ladies in the parlour when they returned from 
their early walk. 

Miss Brotherton possessed a sort of instinctive skill in reading the 
human countenance, which rarely deceived her, and it took her not 
long to discover that the man she had now to deal with was one upon 
whom it would be folly to waste any arguments which did not affect his 
own interest. She, therefore, briefly stated the fact that it was of great 
importance to her to obtain sight of all the apprentices at Deep Valley 
Mill, having great reason to hope that she should find a young relative 
there, for whose release from all engagements she was willing to pay- 
handsomely. 

" It is not the custom, ma'am, to admit visiters at that factory. It 
have been found to hinder the work," replied the miller solemnly. 

" So I understand, sir. But, hearing that you are in the habit of 
visiting the mill on business, I have taken the liberty to send for you 
in order to say, that if you would undertake to deliver this note to 
Mr. Woodcomb, the manager, I would willingly give you five pounds 
for your trouble." 

""That is hardly enough, ma'am, for the risk of offending so good a 
customer," replied the miller. 

" Will double that sum induce you to do it for me ?" said Mary. 
" On what day do you wish it to 'reach Mr. Woodcomb's hands V 
demanded Mr. Timothy Smith, endeavouring to retain a doubtful 
expression of countenance. 

" To-day, sir ; as early as possible." 

" Then, ma'am, I'll be fair and open with you, and not go about to 
mince the matter, or deceive you in any way. If you will pay me down 
twenty pounds in gold, or Bank of England notes, I will consent to 
give up all the important business I had fixed to do this morning, and 
undertake, not only to give your letter to Mr. Woodcomb, but to use 
my influence with him — which is greater than you may guess for — to 
make him do what you wish, provided that you treat him with the 
liberality which a gentleman like him has a right to expect." 
Miss Brotherton drew forth her pocket-book. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 25l 

" I will give you the twenty pounds you demand, Mr. Smith," she 
said in a tone as business-like and decided as his own, " if you perform 
my errand successfully. I will give you this ten-pound note now, as pay- 
ment for conveying the letter, and another of the same value when you 
return to me with the manager's permission to see the children who are 
apprenticed at the mill." 

Mr. Timothy Smith looked at Miss Brotherton's pocket-book and he 
looked at her. His glance at the first inspired a strong inclination to 
increase his demands ; but the miller had studied the human counte- 
nance as well as the lady, and when he looked at her he felt certain 
that though young, rich, and very eager in pursuit of her object, she 
was not a fool, and that if he pushed her to a more preposterous pay- 
ment than he had already proposed, she would be likely enough to 
turn about and look for another agent. He therefore demurely replied, 

" It is all fair, ma'am ; I agree to the terms." 

And without wasting any further time, the man of the mill received 
the note, put on his hat, and departed. 

Not all Mary's self-command, and, considering all things, she had 
a great deal, could enable her to await the return of her costly messen- 
ger with composure. All that she heard of this mysterious mill tended 
to prove that it was precisely such a place as Sir Matthew Dowling 
would be likely to fix upon as the abode of Michael. The more she 
meditated the more she became convinced that the boy was there, and 
she was hot and cold, pale and red, a dozen times in an hour. 

She had kept a copy of her letter to the manager, that she might 
show it to Mr. Bell, from whom she hoped to receive absolution for the 
innocent fraud she had practised. To read and re-read this letter, and 
to speculate with Mrs. Tremlett upon its probable and possible effects, 
occupied some portion of the tedious time ; slowly dragging her steps 
up and down Mrs. Prescot's little garden, and occasionally sitting for 
a fidgety five minutes in a bower of scarlet-runners, employed the 
rest. But the morning seemed endless, and more than once she sus- 
pected that her watch stood still. 

The important letter to Mr. Woodcomb was as follows : 

" Sir, — A wealthy and respectable family have recently had reason to 
believe that a dear child, long considered as lost, has been sent as an 
apprentice to Mr. Elgood Sharpton's factory at Deep Valley. Fully 
aware that the examination necessary to prove whether this hope be 
well founded, must be attended with considerable trouble to you — 
inasmuch as the children must be brought out from their work for me 
to see, I beg to say that, if, without giving me further trouble, you will 
permit this, I will pay the sum of one hundred pounds for the accom- 
modation. Should it be refused, I must have recourse to other means 
for the purpose of ascertaining what it is so important for me to know. 

" I am, Sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" Dorcas Tremlett." 

It was not till five o'clock in the afternoon, by which time Mary 
was fully persuaded that her commission had failed, that Mr. Timothy 



252 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Smith, in his white hat and well-powdered blue coat, was again seen 
approaching the King's Head. The heiress, who was sitting near the 
window, started up, and would certainly have stepped forward to 
meet him, had not Mrs. Tremlett whispered, "Sit down, Miss Mary, 
sit down, there's a darling, and look like a great lady as you did 
this morning; and that's what you are, and always should be." 

Mary reseated herself, and, after a short interval, the miller 
knocked at the parlour-door, and was desired to enter. j Miss Brotherton 
pointed to a chair, and he rested himself. "The weather is warm, 
ladies/' said he, drawing forth a cotton handkerchief, and wiping 
his head and face, " and I have not loitered in my errand, as you 
may see by the state I'm in ; but my horse is getting in years, like 
his master, and it's no easy work to drive him by such a road as 
that I have corned by." 

"Have you succeeded, sir?" said Miss Brotherton, looking as 
grand as Mrs. Tremlett could desire. 

" I am happy to say, ma'am," he replied, with dignity, "that the 
second ten pounds is fairly won." 

" I rejoice to hear it," cried Mary, brightly colouring ; " and I shall 
have great pleasure in paying it. When, sir, may I see these chil- 
dren ?" she added, pulling out her pocket-book as she spoke. 

" Here, ma'arn, is Mr. Woodco nib's reply to your note, and on the 
reading of that, I look to hear you say that the ten pounds is mine." 

Miss Brotherton took the dirty epistle offered her, and read : — 

" Madam, — My employer is strict in his orders not to let the hands 
be interrupted, as they too often are in some mills, to gratify the idle 
curiosity of strangers. But in consideration of your handsome pro- 
posal, and hoping that you won't scruple to follow it with a like sum in 
case of your finding and carrying away the child, which will be no 
more than just, seeing that if I part with a hand I must get another in 
the place of it, on this condition I am willing that all the children on 
the premises shall be placed in the feeding-room for your inspection at 
twelve o'clock to-morrow. 

" I am, Madam, 

" Your humble servant, 

" James Woodcomb." 

The miller kept his eye fixed upon her as she read, and the result he 
looked for followed the perusal of the despatch he had brought. Miss 
Brotherton handed the letter to her friend, and then drew the promised 
bank-note from her pocket-book. The jolly miller rose, and received 
it from her hands. " I thank you, madam," said he, folding it care- 
fully, " and I beg to say, in return, that you would have been troubled 
to find another man who could have done your errand as well." 

" I am quite satisfied, sir," she replied, " and will only ask in 
addition to what you have already done for me, that you would be 
obliging enough to tell me by what conveyance it will be best for us to 
get to the factory to-morrow ? Mr. Woodcomb, as you probably know, 
has named twelve o'clock. I suppose the distance is too great for us 
to walk ?" 



as 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 253 

" Quite impossible, ma'am — altogether out of the question. But I 
shall have no objection to hire out my chay-cart for the day, if so be 
you would think that suitable," said the obliging miller. 

" I have no doubt it would do perfectly well, provided you have a 
horse that can draw it — I should be sorry to lose time in going, and 
should not choose to be later than the hour appointed," replied Mary. 

" I'll look to having a fitting horse, ma'am, and one as is used to the 
road, and that is what but few are. The road is no very good one in 
parts, that's the truth, and I'm not over sure that there's another man 
besides myself that would like to undertake the job ; but I've no 
objection to driving you myself, ladies, provided you think it worth 
while to pay a tradesman for the loss of his time — of course I can't 
charge my labour like a postboy." 

" If you take means, sir, to getusto Deep Valley Mill, by the hour 

appointed, and drive us back again safely to this house, we shall not 

dispute about the price. But remember, if you please, that the 

carriage, or cart, or whatever it is, must have accommodation for 

the child I hope to bring away with me." 

" I will take care of that, ma'am. I will put a little stool in on 
purpose — and I think if I say two guineas, ma'am, for the job, which 
is no easy one, that you can't complain of the price." 

" I certainly shall not complain of it," said Miss Brotherton. 

Nine o'clock was then fixed as the hour of setting out, and Mr. 
Timothy Smith departed. 

Mrs. Prescot's roast chicken and French beans were treated very 
differently from her previous breakfast and luncheon. Mary Brotherton 
was in higher spirits than she had enjoyed for many weeks — she felt 
confident of success, and for the first time in her life, perhaps, fully 
enjoyed the possession of the wealth which gave her such power of 
surmounting difficulties. The kind-hearted Mrs. Tremlett was at 
length as sanguine, and almost as happy as herself; and very freely 
confessed, again and again, that her dear young lady knew ten times 
better how to manage things than she did, old as she was. 

The evening was again spent in a long late ramble, and though they 
did not forget that over a certain towering height, pointed out by Mrs. 
Prescot, lay the dismal spot called the Deep Valley, the exceeding 
happiness which was anticipated for one who dwelt there, made them 
almost forget the misery of the rest. 



254 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

MISS BROTHERTON AND HER FRIEND ARRIVE AT THE DEEP VALLEY 

A REVIEW — DISAPPOINTMENT " A SUDDEN THOUGHT STRIKES" 

THE HEIRESS — SHE CONCLUDES A BARGAIN, THOUGH NOT THE 
ONE TOR WHICH SHE MEDITATED SHE SETS OUT UPON A WALK. 

Mr. Timothy Smith was punctual to his appointment, and at a very 
few minutes past nine, Mrs. Tremlett and Mary were jogging along in 
the miller's jockey-cart, on a seat whereon cushions, that looked very 
like pillows, had been carefully strapped, and with a little stool placed 
before them, the sight of which conjured up so delightful a picture of 
the manner in which they should return, and the joy it would be her 
lot to confer, and to witness, that the pretty eyes of the heiress 
sparkled through tears of pleasure, and she would not have exchanged 
her present expedition for the best party of pleasure that ever was 
devised by man. 

A considerable part of the way was the same as that followed by 
Mr. Parsons when he conveyed Michael to the factory, and need not 
be again described. The tranquil loneliness of that portion of the 
road which ran along the stream, before it made the turn which 
brought the hideous prison-house in sight, lulled her spirits into a 
state that but ill prepared her for the aspect of the grim, desolate- 
looking dwelling into whose recesses she was about to penetrate ; 
and when it suddenly became visible, something like a groan 
escaped her. 

" I hope that jolt didn't hurt you, ma'am V said the miller, turning 
towards her. " Here we are, safe and sound, and that's half my 
bargain, at any rate." 

The vehicle drew up to a small door in the exterior wall of the 
extensive enclosure in which the buildings stood ; Mr. Smith threw the 
reins upon the neck of his horse, and bringing his stout person cau- 
tiously to the ground, offered his services to assist the two ladies in 
doing the same. 

Miss Brotherton trembled as she stood waiting till the miller's 
summons at the door should be answered. Now that the moment was 
come which was to decide the question of her success or failure, she 
no longer felt the same confidence which had cheered her while the 
trial was still distant, and her heart sunk with anticipated disappoint- 
ment. Several minutes of irksome delay gave her time to dwell on 
these oppressive forebodings ; and when the door was at length slowly 
and cautiously opened by Mr. Woodcomb himself, her pale face spoke 
such painful anxiety, that the suspicious guardian of the unholy spot 
was comforted from the satisfactory conviction that her tale was true, 
and that she came not under any false pretences to look at that w r hich 
he considered it to be the first duty of his life to conceal. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 255 

" Good morning;, Smith — all's right, and all's ready for you. Walk 
in, ladies, if you please," said the stern manager, relaxing his habitual 
frown, and intending to be extremely gracious. 

Mary and her friend stepped forward, and heard the stout lock and 
two heavy bolts secured behind them. 

" This" way, ladies, this way, if you please ; there is no need to 
trouble you to enter the factory, which, do what we will to keep it 
nice, can never be quite free from dust. You are a trifle after your 
time, Mr. Smith, but it's no matter; dinner time is over, but if the 
ladies will walk into this room they shall have all satisfaction. How- 
somever, as the young uns is again at work, I can't well stop the mills 
to march 'em in all together. Nevertheless, 1 don't see but it may be 
quite as agreeable, or may be more, for the ladies to look at 'em one 
or two at a time." 

Miss Brotherton did not attempt to speak, but placed herself in a 
chair near the open door, and bent her head to indicate that she was 
satisfied with the proposed arrangement. 

" You had best walk this way with me, Mr. Smith," said the ami- 
able Woodcomb, " the ladies look quite agitated, as is but natural, 
and would sooner be without strangers I don't doubt." A proposal 
which truly was a welcome one to all parties — for Mrs. Tremlett and 
Mary longed to be at liberty to speak without restraint — Mr. Smith was 
thirsting for his accustomed mug of ale, and the manager himself 
bursting to make a few inquiries respecting his mysterious visiters. 

" Have you seen the colour of their money yet, friend Smith ?"— 
were the first words uttered as they crossed the court. 

" Twenty good pounds," replied the miller, expressively patting the 
pocket where the treasure lay, " and given as freely as if it had been 
twenty pence — out of a full pocket-book, too, Mr. Woodcomb, I can 
tell you that — and I can tell you besides, that your money's as sure as 
the bank, and your customer One as is thinking of her own concerns 
and not of yours." 

" That's what I'm judging too, Mr. Smith. One can see in a 
minute if folks eyes are roving here and there, up and down, to take 
account of all they can see. God grant that those poor whey-faced 
females may find what they want, and we shall both of us have made a 
good day's work of it. I sha'n't wish the thing talked of, that's a fact, 
not but what I shall be ready with an answer, if I'm troubled with 
questions. People as have money to throw about, like these folks, 
are not to be put off with a short word, and a lock turned in their faces. 
It mayn't chance once in a century that any such should trouble 
themselves concerning the cart-loads of live lumber as we takes off 
to relieve the overstocked parishes. But now it is come to pass, in 
course we must manage to get through it quietly — so I'm not without 
my answer, Mr. Smith, if the squire should hear of it, and make 
a riot." 

" No, to be sure you arn't — besides there's no need to say nothing," 
replied the miller. 

Mr. Woodcomb, in answer to this, gave an assenting nod, and an 



256 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

approving smile. " Now then, my man," said he, more gaily than he 
often uttered any thing, " sit you down here, and you shall presently 
have a snack and a mug to keep you company. I'll see myself to the 
turning in a few of the hands at a time, to be looked at. For I have 
been- thinking the matter over, Master Miller, and I judge it will 
make ten times less talk and tumult that way, than if they were all 
turned out at once. I'll have out a few boys and girls together, 
chance-like, just as they come — and ten to one nobody but Poulet 
will find out that there's any thing more going on than some job, as I 
wants to get done." 

Mr. Woodcomb accordingly proceeded to the different parts of the 
large establishment, and contrived, without stopping the work any 
where, to perform the task he had undertaken. As the selected chil- 
dren came forth from the various rooms, he told them to cross the 
court to the 'prentice-house, where they would find one as wanted to 
look at them, adding an order to come back again as quick as light, 
" if they didn't wish to be strapped dead." 

Whenever such promises were made, Mr. Woodcomb was known to 
be strictly a man of his word; and Mary and her friend had soon 
gazed with anxious eyes and shuddering hearts upon a greater number 
of half-starved trembling little wretches, than could possibly have been 
made to pass before them in an equally short space of time, by any 
other mode or process whatever. 

They came so quickly in succession, however, that no interval was 
left in which Miss Brotherton and her faithful attendant could exchange 
a word on the melancholy panorama of human misery that passed be- 
fore them. Strange and unwonted as was the spectacle of " two ladies 
sitting in the 'prentice-house," the cowed and frightened children, for 
the most part did little more than stand before her with eyes and 
mouth wide open for a single minute, and then start off again, while 
Mary herself aided the celerity of the process by a shake of the head, 
and a wave of the hand, which indicated plainly enough that they 
were not to stay, but go. 

" What a multitude, nurse Tremlett !" she exclaimed at length, her 
spirits worn with repeated disappointments, and the contemplation of 
the wretched creatures for whom she knew she brought no help. 
" The train seems endless !" 

The old woman returned her a speaking look., and whispered in her 
ear — "Could you not question them, Mary? Might not this dismal 
work be shortened by your asking them if the boy is here ? They 
can't have any reason to hide him. They can't be agents of Sir 
Matthew." 

Mary took the hint, and said to the next young skeleton that pre- 
sented itself — " Can you tell me if there is a boy here named Michael 
Armstrong?" 

The result was a stupid and silent stare, and, without answering, the 
child darted off like the rest. Thrice she repeated the question, but 
with no better success, for two out of the three were among those newly 
arrived to supply vacancies caused by the late mortality, and the third 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 257 

from working and sleeping in another chamber, had never heard poor 
Michael's name. " No !" was pronounced by this one, " No, ma'am/' 
by the two new comers, and Mary's heart almost faiiing her, she re- 
sumed her silent examination. In truth there was in most of the 
unhappy faces that thus presented themselves, such a look of blighted 
intellect, and dogged apathy, that she clung to the ever-lessening hope 
of seeing the boy appear, in preference to any further questioning. 
And thus the coming and going lasted for another rralf-hour without a 
word being spoken. 

At length the sad monotony of the spectacle was broken, at least to 
the eyes of Mary, by the appearance of a little girl, who though pale 
and lamentably thin, had not yet lost thereby the sweet expression of 
her delicate features, neither had the soul within yielded to the para- 
lyzing influence of the hopeless, helpless, unvarying misery by which 
she was surrounded. Her soft gray eyes still retained their eloquent 
power of speaking, and the look of surprise, mixed with something 
that was almost approaching to pleasure, with which she fixed them 
upon Mary's face caused her to make a sudden movement to detain 
her, as the child, following the example of the rest, was turning away. 
At first this movement was caused entirely by the interest which the 
little creature herself inspired — but it almost immediately occurred to 
her, that here, at length, there was a chance of receiving a rational 
and intelligent answer to any question she might ask ; and such 
strength did this idea gain as she continued to look at the child, that 
she told Mrs. Tremlett to stop the approach of those who were coming 
on, and by keeping them waiting in the court for a minute or two, to 
give her time to see if she could not learn something from this most 
interesting-looking little creature. Mrs. Tremlett showed that she too 
thought something might now be hoped for, and with great alacrity 
stepped out into the court to meet the fresh arrivals, shutting, to 
Mary's extreme satisfaction, the door of the room behind her. 

" My dear little girl!" said Miss Brotherton, taking the child's pale 
and slender hand in hers, " How came you in this sad place ? You 
do not look as if you were used to it." 

" Not for very long, ma'am," was the reply. 

" But you have been here during the few last weeks?" 

" I have been here for several months," answered the little girl. 

" Can you tell me" — and Mary almost gasped as she asked the 
question — " Can you tell me, if there be a boy here called Michael 
Armstrong?" 

The look of modest and well-pleased curiosity with which the soft 
eye* were fixed on Mary's face, was instantly changed for an expression 
of deep anguish — for a few moments no reply was uttered, and large 
tears were already chasing each other down her cheeks before the trem- 
bling child found voice to speak ; at last she uttered, almost in a whis- 
per, and still looking through her tears in Mary's face — " Michael Arm- 
strong is dead ! " 

" Dead! — Oh, do not say so !" cried Mary, in a voice so shrill as 

s 



258 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

to reach the ears of Mrs. Tremlett, who immediately opening the door, 
close to which she had been stationed, entered in dismay, exclaiming, 

" What is the matter, Mary ? For Heaven's sake, tell me, was it you 
who cried out in such a piercing voice V* 

Several of the children, who were by this time assembled in the court, 
followed at her heels, thrusting open the door, and staring at the scene 
before them. 

" Shut the door, Nurse Tremlett ! — Send them away — send them all 
away — I have no further need to see them !" said poor Mary, weeping 
from sorrow, disappointment, and complete prostration of spirits. Be- 
fore she spoke another word, Mrs. Tremlett obeyed her instructions, 
and gently pushing back the curious throng, closed and bolted the 
door. 

" Now tell me then, my poor dear child, what new sorrow has come 
upon you? Sure nothing dreadful has happened to the poor little 
fellow?" 

" Nurse Tremlett, he is dead !" replied Mary, weeping afresh, as if 
the boy had indeed been her brother. 

" Lack-a-day for his poor mother !" cried Mrs. Tremlett, u these 
are bad tidings to take home with us, after all our trouble and pains. 
Oh, Mary, dear, I wish you had never left your home !" 

" Say not so, Mrs. Tremlett," said Mary, recovering herself, " cer- 
tainty is ever better than doubt — and here, here is one I may still save 
from misery. What is your name, my dear child, and who was it sent 
you to this dreadful place ?" 

" My name is Fanny Fletcher," said the little girl, " and it was mo- 
ther's parish that sent me here as soon as she was dead." 

" Have you no other friends? — no relations anywhere who could 
take care of you ?" demanded Miss Brotherton, with quickness. 

" No, ma'am, nobody," replied Fanny; but, in saying this, the 
child ceased to weep, and, young as she was, an expression of such 
hopeless, yet enduring composure took possession of her beautiful 
features, that Mary's memory instantly applied to her Byron's thrilling 
words — 

" My thoughts their dungeon know too well; 
Back to my breast the wanderers shrink, 
And bleed within their secret cell." 

" Tell me, Fanny," she said, " tell me quickly, should you not like 
to come away from this place ? I came here to take away poor Michael 
Armstrong. I was to pay money for taking him, and I will pay it now 
for you, if you will tell me that you wish to come, and will be a good 
girl to me." 

"Poor Michael!" said Fanny, while her tears again began to 
flow. 

"Speak, Fanny! shall I take you with me?" cried Mary, impa- 
tiently, for she heard without the door the sound of a heavy step ap- 
proaching. Fanny Fletcher heard it too, and an almost ghastly 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 259 

paleness spread itself over her face and lips, she seemed choking, and 
perfectly unable to articulate, but clasping her hands together, and 
dropping on her knees before Miss Brotherton, raised her eloquent eyes 
to her face with a look which required no commentary. 

" Open the door, Mrs. Tremlett !" said Mary. " Don't you hear 
the knocking ? This is the child I shall take away with me," she 
added in a whisper, and with a look that her friend perfectly under- 
stood. 

Mrs. Tremlett opened the door, and the well-pleased Mr. Wood- 
comb stood before them. 

u That's well," he said, looking at the kneeling child, and at Mary, 
whose arm encircled her neck, with an air of great complacency. " I 
thought by what those said, as you sent back without looking at 'em, 
that you had found what you wanted. And now, ladies, I hope you 
remember the conditions." 

" Do not doubt it, sir," replied Miss Brotherton, instantly drawing 
forth her pocket-book. Here is a note of one hundred pounds to repay 
the trouble I have given you, and here, a second of the same value 
to atone for the loss of Fanny's labour." 

" All right, ma'am," said Mr. Woodcomb, very graciously, " and if 
you had but told me that it was a little girl, with a very pretty face, 
and that her name was Fanny, I could have saved you all your trouble, 
for we don't happen to have another that would answer to that 
description." 

" I have taken no trouble, sir, that I at all regret," replied Miss 
Brotherton, " but I am anxious to set off on my return without any 
further loss of time. Will you have the kindness to inquire if Mr. 
Smith is ready ?" 

" I don't doubt, ma'am, but he will be ready to obey orders, though 
the horse have hardly been baited well yet. Howsomever, those as 
pay well generally looks to have things done in a little less time than 
other folks ; and it's very right and fair that so it should be. If a horse 
can stand, he ou^ht to go, if his owner is well paid — there is no doubt 
of it." 

" I should be sorry to distress the horse," said Mary, (( and if he 
be not sufficiently rested, we must wait." 

"At your pleasure, ladies, at your pleasure. Pray sit down and 
make yourselves comfortable. And of course your ladyship would like 
to have this pretty little girl here made as decent as we can manage ; 
the dirtiest part of her clothes can be changed easy, though the missis 
of the 'prentice-house being lately dead, puts us out a little in our 
management. However, if little Miss Fanny, as we must call her now, 
will please to come up stairs with me, I can make her look a deal 
better, I will answer for it." 

Fanny Fletcher having been raised from her kneeling position by 
the hand of Miss Brotherton, still continued to hold that hand tightly, 
and the young lady now felt so strong a compression of her fingers, 
and was at the same time conscious of so tremulous a movement in 

s2 



260 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the person of the child, as she nestled closely to her, that she felt 
persuaded the proposal of Mr. Woodcomb had frightened her. 

" You are very kind," she replied, drawing the child, sordid as its 
wretched garments were, still closer to her, " you are very kind, sir. 
But I shall prefer taking her away, exactly as I first looked upon 
her." 

" Dear me ! only to think of that now ! That's the beauty of what's 
called natural affection ! Then if you will please to keep seated I'll 
go tell Miller Smith as you're ready, and all the business done, so as 
he may set off as soon as he is able." 

Mary again thanked him for his civility, but felt disposed to think 
that he might have executed his mission more satisfactorily, when he 
returned in about three minutes, with the assurance that Master Smith 
would be ready to start in little less than an hour. 

An hour at that moment seemed to Miss Brotherton an almost in- 
terminable space of time; she felt painfully conscious of being, 
" confined and pent up" with sin and suffering. Heated, agitated, 
and impatient — panting for the fresh air, and longing to question her 
little purchased protegee, concerning poor Michael, she determined to 
walk forward on the road they had that morning traversed, and letting 
Mr. Smith and his cart overtake them. 

"Should you dislike walking on, Mrs. Tremlett?" she said. " My 
head aches, and I am sure nothing will relieve me but a walk." 

" I should like it too, my dear," replied her observant com- 
panion, looking anxiously in her face, and perfectly understanding her 
feelings. 

" Walk, ladies !" exclaimed Mr. Woodcomb, looking exceedingly 
shocked, " ladies such as you to walk out upon our wild moors? Oh 
dear no ! That is quite impossible !" 

This was said to prove at once his tender care of personages possess- 
ing the power of dispensing hundreds, and to show that he was not 
unacquainted with the refinements of polite society ; but this civilly-in- 
tended opposition to their exit produced on his hearers an effect very 
different from what he intended. 

That Fanny Fletcher should tremble at the mention of delay was 
not extraordinary, but that Mary should hear again, in fancy, the 
grating sound of the locks and bars, which had closed behind her as 
she entered, and feel a sick qualm at her heart, as if she were be- 
trayed, and doomed to remain in that hateful spot against her will, 
showed that her nerves had indeed been severely shaken, and that her 
heroism had more of zeal than strength in it. 

Mrs. Tremlett, too, looked exceedingly annoyed, though certainly 
without the same lively recollection of the bolts and bars ; but she 
was so accustomed to consult the wishes of her young companion, and 
to feel at ease herself only when she saw her so, that she too coloured 
with impatience, and sustaining admirably her character of aunt, said, 
" I beg pardon, sir, but I know my niece's constitution so well, that I 
am quite sure the jolting of that rough cart would not do for her just 






OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 261 

at present. She is a great walker, and a mile or so, creeping along 
in the fresh air, will do her a deal of good," 

" In course you know best, ladies, and I can't, for certain, take the 
liberty to oppose. But, by your leave, I'll just mention your plan to 
Mr. Smith before you start, and then, maybe he'll be for pushing on 
his horse a little." 

So saying, Mr. Woodcomb left them ; when Mary, turning to the 
little girl, said, " Have you any bonnet and shawl to put on, Fanny V* 

" I don't know," replied the child. 

" Not know ? How can that be, Fanny ?" 

" Because I have never been out of the doors since I first came 
into them," said Fanny. 

" Poor dear ! I wish they would not keep you here any longer — 
this is quite intolerable !" said Mary, again opening the door, and 
looking impatiently across the dismal court. 

" Keep me here V murmured the little girl,' in a voice of the most 
evident terror. " Do you think they will keep me here V' 

" No, no, my poor child, they shall not keep you here," said Mrs. 
Tremlett, kindly. " Here come the two men together." 

Fanny did not venture to look at them, but Mary did ; and again, in 
spite of her reason, she felt terrified at the idea that she was in their 
power. Mr. Woodcomb, indeed, looked smiling and obsequious as 
before, but in the countenance of the burly miller there was something 
of opposition and displeasure that she could not understand. 

" Setting off walking, miss, is very like bilking your driver," said 
he, with considerably more bluntness than civility. 

u What does he mean, Mrs. Tremlett V* said Mary, turning pale. 

" You had better pay the gentleman before you set out, my dear. 
That's what you mean to say, isn't it, sir ?" 

" Why surely, ma'am, it would be more like doing business," replied 
the man, looking a little ashamed of himself. 

** Is that all?" said Mary, inexpressibly relieved, and drawing out 
her ready purse with such cheerful alacrity, that could the hearts of 
the two men before whom she stood have been read, there might 
have been found in both a strong inclination to profit by it a little 
further. 

" That, I think, sir, is the sum you named for the hire of your 
vehicle ?" said Mary, extending her hand with two sovereigns towards 
him. 

Mr. Timothy Smith took the money, but certainly thought that if 
that sharp-eyed rogue Woodcomb had been further he might have hit 
upon some excuse for demanding more. As it was, however, he could 
not venture it, and with a rather surly inclination of the head, 
pocketed the gold, and left the room. 

" Now then, sir, if you please," said the still frightened Mary, " we 
will wish you good morning." 

u Yes, ma'am, surely, you can go if you please. Only perhaps you 
might like, for the honour of your young relation here, to leave some little 
gratuity to be divided as a little treat among her late companions ?" 



262 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

Mary looked in his face, and the sort of half-ashamed glance with 
which the extortioner watched the effect of his words, appeared to her 
so sinister, that with a sudden feeling of something like rational alarm, 
she remembered'that she had only a few shillings left in her purse, and 
that again to open in his presence her still well-filled pocket-book, 
might be dangerous. 

" Aunt Tremlett, have you any money to lend me V she said, at 
the same time drawing out again her almost empty purse. " I am 
very sorry I have only these few shillings left ; but I will willingly 
send you five pounds, sir, for the purpose you mention, if the miller 
will take the trouble of bringing it to you." 

" Oh ! It's no matter, ladies. Pray do not trouble yourselves 
any more about it," replied Woodcomb, keeping his eyes, however, 
furtively directed towards Mrs. Tremlett, 1 who was still engaged in 
seeking for money in the recesses of a very large pocket. 

" I have two pounds and a few shillings, my dear," said the old 
lady, at length placing her little leathern purse in Mary's hand. 

"That will do, that will do perfectly," said the worshipper of 
Mammon, with an air and tone of the most amiable liberality, but at 
the same time stretching out his hand, in which he received the entire 
contents, uncounted, of Mrs. Tremlett's purse, which Miss Brotherton 
unclasped, and emptied into it. 

Had she studied the man's character for years, she could not have 
devised any manoeuvre so likely to hasten the unlocking the door 
which enclosed them as thus emptying their two purses before his 
eyes. He now moved forward of his own accord, drew forth from the 
pocket of his coat the massive key, applied it with a large, strong, and 
effective hand, to the enormous lock, drew back the heavy bolts, and 
finally threw wide the hateful door. 

The three females passed through it with no lingering steps, and 
heard it close heavily behind them, with feelings assuredly very dif- 
ferent in degree, but in so far the same, that each one as she stepped 
over the threshold, breathed a prayer that she might never repass it 
again. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



THE WALK PROVES TOO FATIGUING TO ONE OF THE PARTY, BUT 

NOT TO MISS EROTHERTON SHE WANDERS FURTHER, AND 

MEETS WITH AN ADVENTURE, BUT AT LAST RETURNS IN SAFETY 

TO HER INN A JOURNEY HOMEWARD, AND A FACT RELATED 

WITHOUT ORNAMENT. 

It is but a dreary and desolate landscape which greets the eye imme- 
diately without the walls of the Deep Valley factory ; but to all who 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 263 

are happy enough to feel that they are quitting those hideous walls for 
ever, it can hardly fail to convey a sense of beauty, freshness, and 
freedom, sufficient to expand the heart with admiration and delight. 
Mary felt disposed to bound along the grassy path beside the stream 
with the joyous playfulness of a child, and rather than have re-entered 
that creaking door again, would have been tempted, like another Un- 
dine, to plunge into the water, and take her chance of finding quarters 
less hateful beneath its rippling wave. Mrs. Tremlett breathed more 
freely, and seemed to have recovered the elastic step of youth, as she 
moved briskly on. But compared with what was passing in the breast 
of the ragged, dirty little creature that walked beside them, their 
feelings were most earthly cold and dull. Her small hand was still 
clasped in that of Miss Brotherton, who felt that the child was urging 
her onward, even faster than she was inclined to go, while her head 
upturned towards the towering heights which hemmed them in, 
seemed eagerly seeking an outlet from the region that her soul ab- 
horred. 

" You are glad, dear Fanny, are you not, to know that you have 
left that frightful place V said Mary, kindly pressing the little emaci- 
ated hand she held in hers. The child stopped short in her hurried 
walk, and looking up in her deliverer's face, with a doubting anxious 
look that it was painful to see, murmured very softly, and as if fearing 
to be overheard from within the walls, 

" Shall I never, never go back again V* 

" No, never Fanny ! Do you think I would be so cruel as to take 
you back ?" said Mary. 

" I do not know if it is not all a dream," replied the child. " I 
have dreamed that I saw green grass, and felt the air upon my face, 
before." 

" Do not be afraid, Fanny ! You are not dreaming now," returned 
Mary. " Run on, and gather that fine large stalk of foxglove. You 
never saw such a gay flower as that in your dreams, did you V 

The little girl sprang forward, and falling upon her knees on the 
grass, plucked the tall flower, and pressed it to her lips, and to her 
heart. But though this was a childish action, it was not done child- 
ishly : there was an appearance of deep feeling, and even of devotion 
in her look and attitude which strongly awakened Mary's interest, and 
when the little creature rose again, and holding the flower in one hand, 
slid the other once more into that of her new friend, the heart of that 
friend yearned towards her with newly-awakened tenderness. But 
when she spoke to her, and endeavoured to lead her into conversation, 
the attempt entirely failed. There are many who might have felt 
disappointed and chilled by this ; but Mary Brotherton had truer sym- 
pathy, and as, from time to time, she felt a loving contraction of 
Fanny's little fingers upon her own, and sometimes caught her looking 
up, as if by stealth into her face, she felt no misgivings as to the cause 
of her silence, but loved her the better from knowing that her heart 
was too full to speak. 

They all, and as if moved by one common impulse, walked quickly 



264 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

forward as long as their road continued along the margin of the 
stream ; but when it turned round the steep hill's base, and began to 
mount, their pace relaxed, Mary felt that her little companion dragged 
on her steps with labour, and perceived that Mrs. Tremlett was out of 
breath. 

" Let us sit down under this ash-tree, and wait for the jolly miller," 
said Miss Brotherton, " it cannot be very long, I think, before he 
overtakes us." 

This proposal was the more amiable, because, in the first place, 
Mary could herself have run from the bottom of that steep hill to the 
top, almost without perceiving that it was any hill at all ; and in the 
next, she so exceedingly disliked both the miller and his cart, that 
had she consulted her own inclinations alone, she would probably 
have preferred retracing the whole way on foot. 

But very gladly was her proposal for rest accepted, by both her old 
and young companion, and long did they remain seated under their 
pleasant canopy before they any of them grew weary of it ; till at 
length, after consulting her watch, Miss Brotherton expressed a doubt 
whether the fat miller and his lazy steed intended to overtake them at 
all. 

"Good gracious, my dear! do you really think so?" said Mrs. 
Tremlett, considerably alarmed. " Why, Mary, we shall never get 
back to Mrs. Prescot's without him !" 

" I hope I may be mistaken, my dear old woman," said her kind 
mistress, affectionately; " for I fear such a walk would be too much 
for you. But when I remember that he is paid, and remember, like- 
wise, how very little he seemed actuated by any motive, save that of 
sordid interest, I confess that I do think it very probable he means to 
leave us in the lurch." 

"Then let us walk on, Miss Mary, without saying a word more 
about it. The shadows are beginning to grow long already, and you 
shan't be kept out half the night by my laziness. Come along, little 

giri." * ; 

With these words, Mrs. Tremlett raised herself from between two 
comfortable roots, which had made her an excellent arm-chair ; but 
the little girl whom she summoned to do likewise, though she exerted 
herself to get on her feet, seemed hardly able to stand. 

" My poor Fanny, you are quite knocked up !" exclaimed Miss 
Brotherton, looking at her with great anxiety. " How in the world 
shall we ever be able to get her on ?" 

" It is only because I have not been used to walk lately," said 
Fanny ; " that is, not as we have been walking now. Our work keeps 
us always on our legs, and that makes them bend about so, when I 
try to walk ; but 1 can walk though it hurts me, and I think it would 
be better to die outright in getting on, rather than rest so near the 
factory — so, please ma'am, I'm quite ready to go on." 

And again the party set off, but the difficulty with which the little 
Fanny got along became more obvious at every step, and it soon be* 
came evident that to get as far as Mrs. Prescot's would be impossible. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 265 

The dilemma was not a pleasant one. They were still in a part of the 
road so little frequented, that it was probable they might wait for 
hours without obtaining assistance from any passer by, nor did either 
Mrs. Tremlett or Mary recollect to have seen any dwelling nearer 
than the high-road, from which they were still at a considerable dis- 
tance. 

The distress of the little girl was painful to witness. At the very 
moment when the dark cloud which had seemed to settle upon her 
was withdrawn, and hope gradually and with difficulty, as to eyes long 
unaccustomed to its light, began to reach her ; at that very moment her 
strength failed, and a sensation, like the sickness of death, rendered 
every attempt at further exertion impossible. 

" I must stay here," she said ; " it is the will of God." 

" No, no, Fanny." said Miss Brotherton, seating herself beside her, 
and letting the languid little head drop upon her bosom ; " you have 
no reason to think that, while I have a thousand to believe the con- 
trary. It is a most strange chance which has brought me here, and 
placed you in my hands — this was by the will of God, and I will not 
believe it has so chanced, only that I may see you die." 

" You must not stay here," said Fanny, feebly ; " night will come 
presently, and you must go fast to get home. Do not be sorry for me 
— but, indeed, I think I am as bad as Michael was, when he fell sick, 
and was carried away to die." 

" Did you see — " began Mary, eagerly ; but suddenly stopping herself, 
she added, " Not now my poor Fanny, you must not tell me about it 
now — when I have got you strong and well at my own home, we will talk 
of poor Michael. Try now, to think how glad you will be when we have 
got you homeland all our difficulties are over ! But something must 
be done, I know, my poor child, before this can be. How had we 
best act in this dilemma, Mrs. Tremlett ? Do you think you shall have 
courage to remain with this poor child while I run on, and endeavour 
to find some house where we may get assistance,?" 

" Alone, Miss Mary ?" replied the good woman, looking terribly 
alarmed. " How can I let you set off in a strange, wild country like 
this, with nobody to take care of you? Let us go together, Mary; 
nothing can hurt this little girl, you know, while we are away." 

'* Think it over once more, dear Tremlett," said Mary, " and then 
I believe you will perceive that there is more chance of your being use- 
ful to her, than to me. I shall get on faster without you, good nurse, 
and with a lighter heart than if I took you for company, while this 
little creature was left with nothing but her own melancholy thoughts 
and childish terrors to comfort her." 

" Then I will stay," said the poor woman, sighing heavily ; " but 
just think, Miss Mary, how I shall feel till you come back again !" 

" I will not loiter to amuse myself," replied her young mistress with 
a cheering smile ; " and now take my place, and' let this poor little 
head rest on your shoulder." 

" She shall lie down on that bit of level turf vonder, with her head 



266 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



upon my lap," said the old nurse, tenderly assisting Mary to lift her 
up. 

" God bless you, my dear good soul ! I will be quickly back 
again," replied her grateful mistress. " How much more you show 
you love me now, than if you insisted upon walking after me. There ! 
she lies as nicely as if she were in bed. If our faithless miller makes 
his appearance, keep him and his cart till I come back ; tell him he 
shall have more gold, and he will stand waiting beside you, as gentle 
as a lamb." 

Having said these comforting words, Mary hastened onward and 
was speedily out of sight. Having reached the top of the hill, she 
looked anxiously round in search of a human dwelling, but nothing 
met her eye, but barren moor-land, which at some distance showed 
symptoms of cultivation, being enclosed in patches by low stone 
walls, and here and there the fragment of a stunted hawthorn fence, 
which seemed to sustain a hungry life with difficulty. Making her 
way across the rude and imperfectly-formed sunk fence, which marked 
the boundary of the cart-road, along which they had travelled in the 
morning, Mary found herself on a level of some extent, but without 
the slightest track to direct her steps amidst the long parched grass, 
and frequent stones with which it was covered. 

" This will never do ! I may walk here till I have completely lamed 
myself, without a chance of meeting any living soul," thought Mary, 
stopping short ; " I shall do better by making for the high-road at 
once." 

And having so decided, she turned about to retrace her steps, and 
regain the road ; but ere she reached it, a sort of hillock at a little 
distance caught her eye, and wishing to take advantage of its eleva- 
tion, for the purpose of reconnoitring, she turned aside to reach it. 
Her approach to it was from the east, and a dazzling sunset was in her 
eyes, as she made her way up the rugged side of what looked like one 
of the tumuli which served as resting-places for human bones, "ere 
churchyards yawned for them. Greatly was she startled on reaching 
the top of it, to perceive on the western side, crouching' % in a hol.'ow that 
looked as if it had been excavated by the shelter-seeking sheep, a 
strange wild figure, whose dress, as she looked down upon it, left its 
sex doubtful. The fragment of a hat, and the remnant of a jacket 
were evidently intended, by their original construction, for the use of 
the nobler sex, while something resembling a petticoat enveloping the 
lower half of the figure, suggested the probability that the masculine 
portion of the attire was worn by sufferance, and not by right. 

Mary's light step among the matted tufts of coarse vegetation which 
covered the thin soil, had not been heard, and she stood looking down 
upon her doubtful neighbour with the advantage of being herself un- 
seen. 

" There goes another day !" said a voice, which though harsh and 
aged, was unmistakably female; " and the silly soul has got to wait 
for another." 







' / ///// 









OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 267 

Glad to find that her unexpected companion in this most desolate 
spot, was of the safer, because the weaker portion of the human race, 
the wandering heiress determined to address her ; but deemed it 
wisest to approach her visibly, instead of startling the poor soul by 
speaking to her unexpectedly from the spot where she stood. For this 
purpose, she gently descended from her elevation, and making a little 
circuit, presented herself before the eyes of the sun-gazer. 

The old woman, for such she was, sat nose and knees together, in a 
sort of hole which completely sheltered her in every direction but the 
west ; and from the earnest manner in which her dim eyes were fixed 
upon the last bright rays of the setting sun, it seemed as if her lair was 
chosen on purpose to look upon it. 

The appearance of Mary seemed to startle her, but not much ; for 
after looking at her for a minute as if she examined her person with 
difficulty, because her eyes were dazzled by the object on which she 
had before been gazing, she said, pointing a stick that she held 
towards the point whence the bright orb had just disappeared, 

" Who be you, coming to spy out old Sally at her devotions?" 

" I want to find a house, my good woman, for I have left a poor 
child very ill at a short distance from hence ; I want to find people 
who can help me to remove her." 

" There are no people here," said the old woman, in a gentle but 
melancholy voice, and turning her eyes round the desolate moor as if 
in confirmation of the assertion. 

" But perhaps you may be able to tell me where I can find some 
one ?" 

" O dear ! O dear ! there is no want of finding for such as you. 
Just go upon the high-road and turn yourself about, and say, * Come 
to me/ and you'll be seeing 'em flock in, right and left, and north and 
south, all bowing and scraping as genteel as possible. Tis only me 
as lives in a hole, and prays to the sun every night to be so kind as 
not to wake me the next morning ; 'tis only me that never sees any 
body. I am the only woman in all the world — all the rest have got 
their death in the factories." 

There are many circumstances of more danger, that are infinitely 
less appalling than meeting, when out of sight of every other human 
being, a poor frail shattered remnant of humanity with a disordered 
wit. Mary shuddered as the wild speech of this poor creature con- 
firmed the idea of insanity which her appearance suggested, and her 
first impulse was to turn and run. But her steps were stayed by the 
shrill, trembling voice of the old woman, who in an accent, the most 
helpless and forlorn, called after her, 

" One minute — only stay one minute ! Let me look at you one 
minute !" 

Mary turned again, and all feeling of terror was lost in pity as she 
beheld the miserable little crippled figure which was hobbling towards 
her. Her height hardly reached that of an ordinary child of twelve 
years old, her gait showed that her legs were dreadfully deformed, her 
uncouth garments hung about her in tatters, and as she painfully 



268 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

rolled herself at every step round the stick by whose aid she was sup- 
ported, it was hardly possible to conceive a more complete image of 
poverty and decrepitude, than her whole appearance offered. 

" Do not hurry so !" cried Mary, every idea of alarm lost in con- 
templating her suffering helplessness. " I will not go yet, if you wish 
me to stay." They were now close together, and the shaking creature 
looked up in her face, with a soft, silly smile, that had all the woful 
innocence of imbecility. With a small, skinny hand that was deli- 
cately pale, and perfectly clean, she took the end of Mary's silk scarf and 
gazed upon it in a sort of ecstasy. " Oh, fine ! oh, pretty, pretty, pretty !" 
she exclaimed, smoothing and patting it with her hand, as if it had been 
a tame and favourite bird. " I think," she added, with a sagacious nod, 
" that I know where you come from. This is just the things, I know, that 
they wear in heaven — I think I know where you come from." Then 
breaking into what sounded like a genuine laugh, she again repeated, 
" I think I know where you come from — that is what the overlooker 
man said to me," she added, lowering her voice to a whisper, " when 
he caught me running away from the factory. It is not so very long ago 
— I can tell you all about it, if you would like to hear — and it is not like 
the rest of the things you know," touching her forehead with her fore- 
finger ; " I don't tell that backwards and forwards, nonsense-fashion, 
like the other things I talk about — that w T as beat in upon my brain by 
the blacksmith, and nothing can ever take it out again, they say, till 
one of the angels does it in heaven. It used to pain me a good 
deal," she continued, taking off her hat, and laying her open palm on 
the top of her head, " but since I took to sitting on my throne there, 
as the folks call it, and gathered the dew morning and night to put 
upon it, the pain is a deal better." 

" I cannot hear your story now," said Mary, gently, " because there 
is a poor sick girl on the side of the hill that wants me very bad — she 
comes from the factory too, and she is too ill to walk — can you tell me 
where I can find any body to help me carry her?" 

" Come from the factory, is she? Dear, dear, dear, dear! She 
will be sure to die, you may depend upon it — they all do die, except 
me. Don't you fancy that you'll ever take her back alive, it was only 
I that could bear that, and I was burnt in the head for it, as I told 
you." 

« I do not want to take her back," said Mary, " I want to help 
her. Where do you live ? Are there any houses or people near this 
place ? Now, be a good woman, and take me where I can find some- 
body to help us." 

" Yes, I will," replied the poor creature, in a tone which convinced 
Miss Brotherton that she understood her, and at the same time be- 
ginning to hobble on before her towards the road. 

Nothing probably less pressing, and less hopeless than her present 
position could have tempted Mary to trust herself to such a guide ; 
yet she felt a strange sort of confidence that the old woman knew what 
she was about, and though aware that the experiment was rather a 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 269 

desperate one, determined to follow wherever her feeble guide should 
lead, certain, at least, that the distance could not be very great. 

There was, however, much more strength and power of locomotion 
in the little cripple than she gave her credit for. Having contrived to 
crawl through the grassy dyke that fenced the moor, she crossed. the 
road obliquely, and making her way through a very imperfect hedge 
of furze and quickset, hobbled on across a bit of miserably arid stub- 
ble, which presently descended abruptly, and led to a tuft of stunted 
elder-bushes, beside which stood a small farm-house, with its cow-yard, 
barns, and ricks. 

Surprised and delighted to find herself so near a human dwelling, 
Mary had hardly patience to restrain her steps to the pace of her poor 
guide, nevertheless she had not the heart to leave her, for there was an 
expression of pride and pleasure in the woman's eye as she turned 
round from time to time as they advanced, which she felt it would be 
most cruel to check by showing that she could do without her. So 
it was together that they reached the bottom of the steep descent, and 
together that they entered the kitchen of the farm-house, where a very 
decent-looking, middle-aged woman was engaged in preparing sup- 
per. She looked exceedingly surprised at the appearance of Miss 
Brotherton, and for a moment turned her eyes from her to her com- 
panion, and back again, with an air that was almost bewildered ; but 
soon recovering herself she courtesied with much respect, and said, " I 
hope you haven't been scared, ma'am, by falling in with this poor 
cretur ? She is as harmless as a baby." 

" Oh, no !" replied Mary, " she has been very kind to me, for she 
has brought me here, where I should never have been able to get with- 
out her, the house is so completely concealed — and I want help, ma'am, 
very much indeed." 

" You haven't met no accident, I hope?" said the good woman, 
kindly, and ceasing her notable operations, she drew forward a wooden 
chair for her guest to sit upon. 

" Thank you very much," said the young lady, seating herself. 
" Yet it is not rest I most want. I have a little girl with me whom I 
have left by the side of the road that leads from the mills ; she is too 
weak and ill to get on, and I hope you will be able to lend me some 
conveyance — a cart, a waggon, any thing to take her as far as the 
King's Head, three or four miles I suppose from hence, upon the turn- 
pike-road : I would pay well for it." 

" From the mills V repeated the woman staring 

" Yes ; from the place called Deep Valley Mill," replied Mary, 
" perhaps rather more than a mile from here." 

" Oh ! ma'am, I know the Deep Valley Mill well enough," was the 
answer. " All Mr. Woodcomb's own butter and milk comes from 
here. That is not the difficulty. But we shan't like to have nothing 
to do with carrying away any child from there." 

" You need fear nothing on that point," replied Miss Brotherton, 
eagerly, " I have paid for permission to bring this child away." 

" That alters the case for certain. But — I ask your pardon, ma'am, 



270 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

—there is something very odd too, in such a lady as you walking 
away from the factory with one of the children." 

" Indeed I do not wonder at your saying so. But believe me, I 
tell you nothing but the truth when I assure you that I have permis- 
sion, and have paid largely for it, to bring this child away. Our un- 
fortunately attempting to walk was merely accident, and occasioned 
entirely by my foolish impatience to get away from the place before 
Mr. Smith, the miller, who took me there, thought his horse sufficiently 
rested to return. " 

" Mr. Smith, the miller ? Then for certain all's right — for they be 
known for the greatest of friends, Mr. Woodcomb and he — and I dare 
say my husband, ma'am, would be proud to help you when he comes 
home. It's coming dark fast, and he won't be long I dare say." 

u But I must go back to this poor child ; I have left her with an 
old lady, who will, I fear, be greatly alarmed at being left so long," 
said Mary. 

u Poor child.'" repeated her limping guide, who, from the moment 
they had entered, had been reposing herself, by sitting on the floor, 
and had not spoken till now. " Poor child ! — think of that! — and 
she comes from the factory ! Think of speaking in that way of a 
factory child !" 

" Hold your tongue, Sally, or I'll give you no porridge for supper," 
said the woman, but by no means harshly ; and as she spoke, she drop- 
ped into the maniac's lap a piece of bread that lay in a plate upon the 
table. 

" Had your factory child got this now," said poor Sally, nodding 
her head with a sort of boastful exultation, " she would not be so 
terrible bad. But there's nobody but me as gets this. I am the only 
old woman in the world ; all the rest die young — and most of 'em," 
she added, in a whisper, " before they get away." 

" Was this poor creature at the Deep Valley factory when she was 
young ?" demanded Miss Brotherton. 

" She tells you quite true, ma'am," replied the farmer's wife, re- 
suming her cookery, which consisted in chopping up bacon, cabbage, 
and potatoes, for the frying-pan. " She talks nonsense about the 
moon sometimes, and is very wild when it comes to the full, but she 
never makes any blunder when she tells of her own troubles at the 
factory. She never varies the least bit in the world when she tells 
about her getting away, and being stopped, and taken back again, 
poor cretur. ? Tis only too true, that's the worst of it — and she has 
never been in her right mind since." 

" I would hear her tell it willingly, and should listen to it with great 
interest," said Miss Brotherton. " But at this moment I can think of 
nothing but those I have left." 

" Whereabouts be they, ma'am ?" demanded the farmer's wife. 

Mary described the spot very accurately. " Why, dear me ! them 
surely must be the trees right against our gate," said the good woman, 
■with great apparent satisfaction. " And if so be as I'm right, 'tis 
hardly more than a stone's throw from our back gate. I take it, 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 271 

ma'am, as you walked by the lane just round our farm, and them trees 
as you speak of, bean't not one quarter of the distance as you have 
come." 

" In that case," replied Miss Brotherton, greatly comforted, " I have 
no doubt that we could get the poor little girl here, and then if you 
would give us leave to remain till your husband has contrived to procure 
some sort of conveyance for us, all our troubles would be over, and 
most gratefully will I repay you for your assistance." 

" I will show you the way this moment, ma'am," said the woman, 
with great alacrity ; and once more suspending her labours for the 
good man's supper, she prepared to attend the lady by taking off an 
external apron, and smoothing that which was below it. 

Though not quite within a stones throw, the spot to which Miss 
Brotherton was so anxious to return, was reached by a very short cut 
across the piece of meadow-ground on which the back part of the 
farm-house opened. 

The joy of Mrs. Tremlett at seeing her was great indeed ; and poor 
Fanny, refreshed by the interval of rest, declared herself quite able to 
walk " a good piece more." 

" Poor little creature !" exclaimed good Mrs. Roberts, the farmer's 
wife ; " she do look bad, sure enough ! It is seldom or never that we 
gets a sight of the children at the mill, for they sends regular for what 
they wants, and bean't over fond of having any body go near 'em ; — 
but she puts me strongly in mind of old Sally's stories to be sure !" 

The little party reached the farm without difficulty, and then, indeed, 
as Mary had predicted, all their present troubles seemed over, for 
nothing could exceed the earnest kindness with which Mrs. Roberts 
administered to all their wants. Mrs. Tremlett's appearance and 
manner appeared to have entirely removed the sort of doubtful im- 
pression which poor Mary's hurried entree had produced, and having 
been told that the little girl had been reclaimed by them as a relation, 
the whole adventure appeared to her as one of the deepest interest, 
and her sympathy and good- will were most fully excited. 

Old Sally was sitting upon the floor exactly where they had left her. 
" Poor thing !" exclaimed Mary, " she has not moved an inch." 

" Not she, poor soul," replied Mrs. Roberts, " I told her to bide 
still, and when we says that to her, she'd keep still, if Ave was to 
be away a whole day, I believe. Get up, Sally !" she added, good- 
humouredly. " There's a brave woman ! Look at that little girl, and 
tell the ladies what she puts you in mind of." 

The expression of the poor withered, idiot face, that was turned upon 
Fanny Fletcher when this was uttered, was most touchingly sad and 
solemn. The gentle, silly look, which her countenance usually wore, 
was exchanged for one full of deep mysterious meaning. She drew 
herself towards the little girl with a sort of stealthy movement, as if 
afraid of being seen to approach her, and when quite close beside her, 
said, 

" You then have done as I did— you have run away ? Poor, poor 



272 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

little thing ! Can't you guess what will come next ? Poor little thing ! 
They will catch you ! hide where you will, they will catch you." 

" I have not run away," said Fanny, gently. 

The maniac shook her head. " Don't you scream as I did, my poor 
lamb, for it's no good ; they care no more for screams and groans 
than for the whirring of the spindles. But the screams went into my 
own ears, and I have never got rid of them since. I still hear them, 
all night long, when it is moon-time. Poor, poor little girl !" 

" Come, come Sally — let her alone now, she is going to eat some- 
thing." 

And Mrs. Roberts completed the arrangements upon which she had 
been occupied since they entered, by placing chairs at the table on 
which bread, butter, and cheese, were placed. 

Not even did the Deep-Valley apprentice feel more disposed to do 
justice to these preparations than did Miss Brotherton and her old 
servant. They had tasted nothing since breakfast, and when a bowl 
of fresh milk was added to the bread-and-butter, Mary gratefully 
assured her entertainer that she considered it as the most delicious 
supper she had ever eaten. 

" Now that's different," said poor Sally, who had perched herself on 
a low stool close to Fanny Fletcher. " I never had any pretty creature 
like that, all clothed in heavenly trappings, giving me milk ; but it 
will make no difference in the end — you must be dragged back again, 
poor little thing !" 

" No, no — she won't be dragged back again," said Mrs. Roberts ; 
" and there's a cup of milk for you — so now let the ladies eat in 
peace, Sally. You know it's time for you to be crawling home— the 
master will be here in no time, and maybe he will be after asking how 
many stones you have picked up 4 to-day, so you had better be off." 

The docile creature immediately shuffled off her stool, and prepared 
to depart. 

" I should like to hear her describe her own adventures, which you 
say she does so faithfully," said Miss Brotherton. " Do you think 
you could persuade her to repeat her story to us V 

" Yes, yes, ma'am ; she will do that quick enough ; it is just what 
she likes best," replied Mrs. Roberts ; " except now and then when 
she is moody. Now, Sally, if you will behave yourself like a sensible 
woman, you may sit down again, and tell the ladies how you ran 
away from the mill, and was caught and brought back again, and all 
the rest of it." 

The little cripple's eyes twinkled, and a gleam of intelligence 
flashed across her countenance with a sort of Will-o'-the-wisp bright- 
ness, as she took the fragment of a hat from her closely-shorn gray 
head, and reseated herself. 

" 'Twas my knees as was the first of it," she began ; " I couldn't 
bear it. The pain growed worse and worse, and my legs dipped 
down, and they strapped me harder and harder, and that was the 
reason that I couldn't bear it. So one day," she continued, in a deep 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 273 

clear whisper, " one day when the 'prentices, and overlookers, and 
manager, and all was off for dinner, I stopped behind 'em, and no- 
body seed me — no, not one of 'em. And while they were at dinner, I 
slipped into the yard where the pigs bide, and then away again, all 
upon the sly, to the door where they takes the dirt out. I thought 
maybe, I might have the bolts to pull., but not a bit of it — there it 
stood wide open, with a barrow full of rubbish between the posts — that 
was fun !" 

And here the poor creature laughed that dreadful laugh which none 
but maniacs utter. 

"But the fun lasted longer than that," she went on, " it lasted 
while I creeped along for a mile or more among the bushes as grows 
so rank t'other side the mill ; and there I laid down at last in the 
midst of 'em, 'cause I heard a noise, and what d'ye think it was ? 
What d'ye think the poor cretur heard with her heart galloping just 
at the bottom of her throat, for all the world like the flap — flap — flap 
of a fly-wheel V* 

" Perhaps 'twas a dog barking, Sally," said Mrs. Roberts, humour- 
ing the maniac as she made a pause. 

" No ! 'twas not a dog barking, nor it wasn't a wolf, nor it wasn't 
a tiger ; but it was something ten million of times worser than either — 
It — was — the — 'printice-master !" replied Sally, in a slow deep whis- 
per. " It was the divilish 'printice-master with his eyes of fire, and 
his breath of flame. Oh-h! I feel him at my throat now !" and she 
clasped her withered neck with her pale thin hands, shuddering vio- 
lently from head to foot. 

" Speak soberly, Sally, and like a sensible body, or you must not 
go on, you know that," said Mrs. Roberts, interposing in a warning 
tone, which poor Sally seemed to understand, for though her breast 
still heaved with a panting movement, like one who had run a race, 
and was out of breath, she assumed an affected air of composure, put- 
ting her hands before her primly, and shutting her eyes. 

" Yes, mississ, I know that," she replied, sedately, " I know that 
very well, and we won't trouble Joe ploughman to help us home this 
time ; but I may go on, if I speak sensible, and like a wise woman, as 
I am ?" 

The farmer's wife nodded assent, and Sally continued more 
quietly. 

" It was the 'printice-master, and none but he as dragged me forth, 
head foremost, out of the bushes — very much like the butcher, you 
know, my dears, when he takes the little lamb's head between his two 
hard hands — 1 never sees that up at Tom Blake's shambles, without 
thinking of it. So he dragged me back again — and then you may 
guess how the strap went ! But think of me ! think what a spirit I 
must have had in those days, my dears — will you believe that I made 
up my mind to start again, though I hadn't a bit of unbruised skin 
upon my body? — I did though. Oh, dear ! oh, dear! how I used 
to hear the birds singing in my ears o' nights, when I laid down, and 
made believe to sleep ! But I don't fancy it was sleep, not right 

T 



274 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

wholesome sleep ever, as I got then ; for I can mind now, yes I can, 
with all my moonshine, I can mind now, how I used to smell the grass, 
and see the dew shining, and hear the pretty sweet cows a mooing, 
and I all the while shut up in a stone prison-house — that was the divil 
tempting me, wasn't it ? But I didn't start again for two whole years 
though, — 'cause why, I never found no chance for it ; and by that time 
my legs was shocking bad, and if it was the divil as made me run, he 
ought to have sent me a stick to help me — for, oh, dear ! I crawled 
dreadful slow — and then — " 

" Come, come, Sally," interrupted Mrs. Roberts, " I won't have all 
that at full length, or else we shall have you off again; make an end, 
there's a fine woman. Tell the ladies about the shutting up, and then 
go home and to bed, for 'tis time." 

Miss Brotherton ceased to wonder, as she had first done, at the 
chartered licence which the crazy cripple seemed to enjoy, when she 
observed the perfect docility with which she obeyed every word and 
look of the farmer's wife. She now resumed her story, exactly at the 
word commanded. 

" Yes, I was shut up, my dears — I shall have soon done now, for I 
am coming to the black gap, as I call it, and I always stops there — 
but where do you think they shut me up? In this room, or that room, 
or t'other room, perhaps ? Not a bit of it. They shut me up in a 
little narrow place, not much bigger than a grave, and it was dark — 
dark — dark, all but one little narrow slip, and there was no light 
corned through that at first ; but by and by, after I had been days and 
days locked in, I heard a horrid, horrid lumbering noise, and then I 
saw a flash of light through the narrow slip, for all the world like the 
light of a candle — and the light of a candle it was too, and what do 
you think it showed me ? Crippled as I was, I managed to scramble 
high enough to peep — there was beams, on bricks or something, 
and what do you think I saw V 

The poor creature began shaking again, but on Mrs. Roberts hold- 
ing up her finger, she seemed to make a strong effort to control her- 
self, and once more slipping off her stool she drew close to Miss Bro- 
therton, and in a low rapid voice, hurried through the remainder of 
her narrative. 

"I saw," said she, "the master's wife laid stone dead upon a 
truckle-bed, amost as close to me as I to you — think of that ! Stone 
dead ! Stiffened, stark, and ghastly, and blue ! There was a candle 
that flaed full upon her dead face ; but they as brought her was run 
away — they couldn't bear it, I'm sure they couldn't bear it, and I 
was left alone to look upon it, and I couldn't run away ; but I could 
not bear it either ! and then it was that I screamed— hush ! I must not 
scream now, you know !" 

Here she stopped, putting her hands before her eyes, and remaining 
perfectly still for a minute, and then added with more composure, 

" After that came the black gap, and I don't know any thing more 
about it ; only that I watch the sun go to bed every night, and I have 
been going on praying for years and years, all the time I have been 






OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 275 

growing* into an old woman, that he would please not to wake me in 
the morning." 

" Here's the master, Sally !" said Mrs. Roberts ; " so take yourself 
off, there's a good woman. Here's your mug of porridge ; put on 
your hat steady, and wish the ladies a good night." 

Again she was most docilely obeyed, and in another moment poor 
Sally was gone, and the hardworking master of the premises occupied 
her place. The situation and wants of his unexpected guests were 
speedily explained to him, and his best assistance as speedily pro- 
mised. While he devoured a hasty supper, one of his farm-horses 
was put into the shafts of a jockey-cart, and in less than an hour after 
his return, the comforted party set out by the light of a friendly moon, 
and were safely jolted to the King's Head, without having been over- 
taken by the treacherous miller, who probably preferred sharing the 
jovial supper, in which his good friend Woodcomb indulged on this 
memorable evening, to forsaking it for the purpose of overtaking the 
ladies, from whom it was derived — as there seemed but little chance 
of drawing any thing more from the same source. 

Great was the joy of Mrs.Prescot at seeing her guests return ; for 
their long absence, together with the nature of the business on which 
they were engaged had caused the good woman to torment herself 
with many dark forebodings. Nevertheless, she was well prepared to 
receive them, and nothing was wanting that she could furnish towards 
refreshing the adventurers after their fatigue. 

But, alas ! it was only then ; it was only after the anxiety, and the 
agitation of the enterprise were over, that poor Mary fully remem- 
bered how abortive that enterprise had been ; and then she wept, wept 
bitterly, as she thought of the load of anguish she had to carry home 
to Michael's mother and brother. Yet as she listened to little Fanny's 
tearful narration of all that had passed between them, during the 
weeks they had worked together, she felt that when the first dreadful 
pang should be over, there would be something like consolation for 
them in listening to it also ; and as she studied the delicate and ex- 
pressive features of the pretty creature she had rescued, and watched 
the sort of timid, doubting hope, that by degrees took place of the 
nervous, heart-struck look, that had been so painfully legible in her 
sweet face when first she saw her, it was impossible not to feel that 
while deploring the loss of one object of benevolence, she had to re- 
joice for having found another. 

Luckily for the respectability of their appearance, in setting forth on 
their homeward travels the following morning, the active Mrs. Prescot 
was enabled, by the aid of the heiress's magic pocket-book, to pro- 
cure from a neighbour a suit of decent apparel for the little orphan. 
The same freely-flowing source supplied wherewithal to reward all the 
friendly offices performed by the host and hostess of the King's Head, 
and in addition, they were left in possession of a romance which was 
likely enough, from the frequency with which it was repeated, to 
furnish a legend to the little village to the end of time. 

One single adventure occurred to Miss Brotherton on her way home, 

t2 



276 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

which though forming a very isolated episode in the history of her 
journey, shall be recounted, because the fact which it brought to her 
knowledge is one that well deserves publicity. 

The heiress varied her road homewards, by driving through a village 
which, were it not infested by the plague-spot of a factory, might be 
considered as one of the most attractive in Derbyshire. At one 
point the road passes through a rocky defile of such wild beauty, that 
Mary, who was equally unacquainted with fine scenery, and capable of 
enjoying it, called to the postboy to stop, that she might get out and 
walk up the long ascent, in order the more thoroughly to enjoy the 
widely-spreading landscape it commanded. Neither of her companions 
accompanied her. Mrs. Tremlett consenting, nothing loth, to remain 
in the post-chaise, upon the steepness of the road being pointed out 
to her, while little Fanny, though in her heart longing to spring after 
her benefactress, replied to the observation, that she was not yet 
strong enough to climb, by a look that spoke more of gratitude, than 
regret. 

It was alone, therefore, that Mary Brotherton started forward, her 
active steps soon leaving the carriage behind ; when cutting short the 
spiral ascent by making her way through the underwood which clothed 
the bank, she soon found herself high above the road, and on a spot of 
great beauty. After lingering here for a few minutes she proceeded, 
when hearing the ever attractive sound of rushing waters, she again 
stopped, and then, guided by her ear, followed where it led, till she 
reached an opening, not far from the high-road, but apart from it, 
where, instead of the mountain cascade she had expected, a spectacle 
greeted her that for an instant seemed to petrify every nerve, and the 
bounding elastic movement which had brought her within sight of it, 
was changed to the rigid stillness of marble. A man, almost ferocious 
in his aspect, from the squalid, unshorn, brutal negligence of decency 
which it betrayed, was supporting in his arms, and on his bosom, a boy 
of ten or eleven years old, whose ghastly countenance showed plainly 
that death was busy at his heart. Before the rock from whence flowed 
the gushing stream, whose sound had brought Miss Brotherton to the 
spot, stood what looked like the fragment of a rude pillar, and on this 
stone the father had rested the wasted form of his dying child. Be- 
fore him stood a little girl gazing on the boy with a mixture of infant 
fear and sisterly love, as she tended a bowl, filled from the spring, to 
his lips. 

" He is very ill I" said Mary, addressing the father, " can I go any 
where to get help for you V* 

The man, who had the fragment of a pipe in his mouth, and who 
looked rather bewildered, and fiercely angry, than oppressed by sor- 
row, stared at her, but answered not a word. 

" What is the matter with him?" said Miss Brotherton, addressing 
the little girl. 

" He be worked down," replied the child, sobbing. ll We have 
been at long hours for four weeks, and Dick couldn't stand it — father 
liave carried him to and from mill for a week-— but he couldn't stand 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 277 

it. Mother said, when we started, that he looked as if he'd never 
come back alive ; but he'd have had to pay double fine if so be as 
father had left him to bide at home, so he carried him to mill ; but 
though they strapped him, and strapped him, he couldn't stand to his 
work, and he have been lying in the mill-yard till father corned to take 
him." 

This horrible statement was uttered amidst tears and sobs, but poor 
Mary lost not a word of it ; and as her very soul sickened at the tale, 
she felt tempted to believe that she was doomed to witness every cir- 
cumstance that could most painfully recall the source whence all her 
greatness flowed. 

With clasped hands, and streaming eyes, she stood silently watch- 
ing the gasping breath of this young victim of unnatural labour. The 
boy's eyes fixed themselves on the face of his little sister. He might 
be listening to her history of his early fate — or he might be consciously 
taking a last look at what he loved. In either case the effort demanded 
more strength than was left him — his eyes closed, a shivering move- 
ment passed through all his frame, and then he became still. The 
quick, short, unequal heaving of the breast was seen no more, and 
Mary hid her eyes as the mysterious change, which no human being- 
can gaze upon unmoved, came upon the stiffening features. It was 
rather instinct than feeling, which prompted her even at that awful 
moment to proffer what she had learned to know would be felt as con- 
solation, did one starving member of a family alone survive amidst the 
dying and the dead of a whole race. Without venturing again to look 
at the father and his son, she dropped into the bowl, which the little 
girl still held, what she hated to think would soon turn natural sor- 
row into unnatural forgetfulness of it : but she had no power to serve 
them more effectually, and hastily turning into the road, she awaited, 
the slow arrival of the post-chaise in a state of mind which left no 
faculty at leisure to enjoy any longer the hills and valleys for whose 
sake she had left it. 

From this time the journey homeward proceeded without accident 
or adventure of any kind, and Mary would probably have shared the 
pleasure so energetically expressed by Mrs. Tremlett at being restored 
to the luxurious tranquillity of Milford Park, had not the heavy news, 
she carried to the poor Armstrongs made her dread the day that 
would follow her reaching it. 

But how she got through that painful day, and all that resulted from 
it — how little Fanny Fletcher fared in her new and most strange home, 
and whether her patroness had most reason to bless or deplore the 
sudden movement which had caused her to hazard the blending thus 
the destiny of one so utterly unknown, with her own, must all be re- 
served for future narration, as the adventures of Michael Armstrong, of 
necessity, draw the pen of his historian elsewhere. 



278 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



CHAPTER XXV. 

THE NARRATIVE RETURNS TO ITS HERO AND RELATES WHY AND 

WHEREFORE HE WAS KEPT ALIVE THE BOY GROWS TALL, AND 

TAKES TO THINKING. 

The answer which Fanny Fletcher had received to her inquiries con- 
cerning Michael was as false as it was heedless. The little fellow who 
gave it had no intention of uttering what was untrue : he believed that 
the boy she inquired for was dead — so many had died, and been borne 
from the wretched garret where he had himself lain, battling with the 
fever, sometimes delirious, and sometimes asleep, that it was no great 
wonder he should blunder. But Michael Armstrong was not dead, 
though the state in which the malady left him was such, that for weeks 
the surly old woman, hired to supply the place of Mrs. Poulet, mut- 
tered curses on him for not being in a state to be quietly buried out of 
the way, like the rest. 

It was just five days after Fanny Fletcher left the Deep Valley 
Mills in company with Miss Brotherton, that Michael waked from that 
first sound healing sleep, which often announces the conquest of life 
over death, after a hard-fought struggle between them. 

The little fellow raised himself upright on his straw pallet, and for a 
minute or two looked about him to make himself quite sure where he 
was ; for so heavy had been his sleep that it was not immediately his 
senses could recover their usual powers of perception. But only too 
soon, alas J he made it all out. He was still in that foul den of 
misery and filth ; and the first impulse of his fully- recovered intellect 
was to utter a bitter expression of regret that his life had been spared 
for further suffering, while so many had been mercifully permitted to 
sink into their peaceful graves. But even as he breathed the words, 
he repented of them. The image of his mother seemed to rise before 
him — he remembered that she had bade him ever to trust in God, and 
let no cause tempt him to take his name in vain. The quiet eye of his 
much-enduring brother rose to his memory, as he had seen it a thousand 
times fixed upon him, while he enjoined patience and submission for 
their dear mother's sake ; and the more recently-heard precepts of 
little Fanny, all preaching the same righteous, but hard lesson, came 
in their soft, pleading, innocent tone to give him strength to bear. 
Michael crossed his emaciated hands upon his breast, and murmured, 
" God forgive me !" — then dropping again into a gentle sleep, awoke 
not, till the old woman shook him rudely, rather for the gratification 
of her curiosity, than in performance of her duty, in order to see 
whether the "wiry, hard-skinned little varment wasn't dead 'at 
last." 

She started with a feeling very like terror, when the boy, opening 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 279 

his large eyes upon her, asked her to please to be so kind as to give 
him a drink of water. 

" What, then ! — you don't mean to die after all? If you bean't 
born to be hanged, it's a mystery. Water ? — if you haven't got summut 
in it after lying this fashion, the Lord knows how long, you'll balk the 
hangman at last !" And with these words the crabbed crone retreated, 
hastening, with the consciousness of having something wonderful to 
tell, into the presence of Mr. Woodcomb. 

" There's a boy, sir, as have been lying a dying amost ever since I 
corned, as is actually coming to, now ; not but what he must still be 
within an inch of the grave, seeing what he has gone through — and he 
looks for all the world as if he had been buried and dug up again. 
Howsomever I don't think but what he might come through, if so be as 
you thought it worth while to give him food. That sort of sleep as I 
waked him out of, shows plain enough as the fever is gone, and then 
you know, sir, as kitchen physic is all the cretur's wants, perhaps, 
for the sake of preventing the burying beginning again, your honour 
might think it was as well to give him a little broth, and meat, too, 
after a bit, for he won't do without it, that's certain." 

" I had clean forgot that there was one left up there, Molly," re- 
plied the superintendent. " But in Heaven's name, let him be fed, 
woman — I wouldn't have to bury any more of 'em just now, for ever 
so — he'll come round again, I suppose, before its very long ? We are 
still very short of piecers, and it's as well to keep him alive, you know, 
as to go after another." 

" As for that, sir," replied the old woman, " it won't be to-morrow, 
nor next day, either, as he'll pay for his salt ; I'll tell you that before- 
hand. So you had best please to make up your mind at once about the 
keeping him alive. There's nothing will do it but giving him amost a 
bellyful every day, and maybe a little fresh air into the bargain, I'm 
thinking, seeing the time he's laid stewing up there, with such lots 
dying all round him." 

" If it wasn't for the having to open ground for him again, I'd be 
hanged, drawn, and quartered, before I'd trouble myself about what 
sort of air a 'prentice had to breathe. Howsomever, I have got my 
own reasons for not choosing to trouble the parson again, nor yet for 
doing the job without him. So cram the brat as much as you like — I 
suppose my leavings is good enough for him V* 

" Please master not to talk of my liking to cram 'prentice brats," re- 
torted Molly. " Often and often, as I've been back and forward here, 
for one job or another, nobody ever saw me trying to pilfer any thing 
for their starving stomachs, the low creturs ! I dispises 'em too 
much. But I knows what will save life, and what will lose it, better, 
maybe, than most folks, and so now you may do just as you please, 
without putting it upon my likes or dislikes." 

" Don't be so frumpish, Molly Bing," replied Mr. Woodcomb, laugh- 
ing, " there's nobody going to charge you with being such a fool as to 
make a pet of a factory 'prentice while there's a puppy-dog to be had 
for love or money. Don't you be scared at any such notion as that, 



280 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

for I knows ye a deal better, old woman, than to put any such affront 
upon ye. You just stop the creature from dying, if you can, for that 
will suit me a deal best just now." 

The will of Mr. Woodcomb, thus clearly expressed, was acted upon 
with very implicit obedience; the consequence of which was, that 
Michael Armstrong Avas not only saved from death, but his constitution 
greatly benefited. Molly Bing had pledged her judgment upon the 
result of his case, and in order to prove it correct, she contrived that 
he should swallow about ten times as much nourishment as fell to the 
share of any other child in the mill. He had grown surprisingly during 
the period of his confinement, and this gave so lengthy a look to his 
thin person, that Molly more than once fancied the audacious little 
villain would give her the lie at last ; so she not only fed him, but got 
leave for him to clean out the pig- sties, scrape up the filth from the 
yard, and sundry other jobs of the same description, all of which, how- 
ever unsavoury in their nature, bore, as the sharp-witted old woman 
well knew, the balm of health in every movement they enforced, com- 
pared to the monotonous and grinding slavery of the mill. But in 
the course of a month or two, another glorious proof of England's 
prosperity reached the Deep Valley, in the shape of a large order, and 
Mr. Elgood Sharpton, in communicating the cheering intelligence to 
his manager, enforced the necessity of strenuous exertion in the 
execution of it, by telling him that, sick or well, the children must 
work long hours, and that it was far better that they should a little 
overwork the hands, than run any risk of disappointing so valuable a 
customer. 

In consequence of these instructions, Michael was withdrawn from 
his out-door labours, and once more made to follow the mules. It 
was then, and then only, that he discovered the heavy loss he had sus- 
tained by the departure of Fanny. While employed upon the out- 
of-door tasks assigned to him by the commands of Molly Bing, he had 
been strictly enjoined never to speak to any of the apprentices who 
might chance to pass while he was at work. His meals were eaten in 
Mr. Woodcomb's kitchen, and the place assigned for his lodging by 
night, was a sort of closet that opened from it. No day, no hour had 
passed, unless in sleep, since he recovered his senses, without his 
thinking of her. At the risk, or rather with the certainty of cuffs and 
hard words, no foot-fall had ever passed within his hearing without 
causing him to turn his head to reconnoitre, and much as he preferred 
the labour on which he was now employed to that of the mill, he 
would willingly, nay joyfully, have exchanged it in the hope of again 
seeing his little friend. It was therefore with a feeling of gladness, 
instead of regret, that he received orders to turn into the factory. 

" That is queer V thought the little fellow, as he bounded to obey 
the command, with the double energy of recovered health, and 
awakened hope, " it is queer for me to feel glad that I am going back 
to the factory !" 

As it happened, he was marshalled into the same room in which he 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 281 

had worked before his illness — but alas ! when he turned his eyes to 
the spot which Fanny had formerly occupied near him, a singularly 
ill-favoured boy met his gaze, instead of the pretty creature he 
sought for. This was a death-blow to the joy which a few minutes 
before had given him a gait and an expression of countenance so 
unwonted in a factory-boy returning to his well-known sufferings. 
Nevertheless, though a tear blinded the eyes which at length settled 
reluctantly on the broken threads which awaited his fingers, he remem- 
bered that the factory had seven floors, and cruel as it was to lose the 
pleasure of giving his little friend a look or a word as they each paced 
their weary walk, he still thought he might get a sight of her at their 
dismal meals, and fancied that he should not greatly regret exchanging 
scraps of wholesome meat, for musty oatmeal, provided Fanny 
Fletcher was by to tell him not to mind it. But the musty oatmeal 
came all too soon, for no word or look of Fanny's came with it; nor 
did any uncertainty long remain, on which to hang a lingering hope 
that some unfinished task detained her in the mill, and that he should 
see her soon. His first question, whispered to the girl who sat beside 
him, brought forth the history of Fanny's wonderful departure, at as 
full length as the time and place would permit. At first he listened to 
it with incredulity. It seemed, he thought, like a story made up to 
deceive him, for fun ; and little as the blighted young spirits of that 
sad fraternity were given to jesting, Michael clung to the belief that 
such was the case, as long as the meal lasted. But, as usual, a few 
minutes followed, during which they were left alone — an indulgence 
which necessarily arose from the fact, that even the niggardly allow- 
ance of time awarded by the regulations of Mr. Elgood Sharpton for 
their meals, was more than the famished children required for devour- 
ing the scanty portion set before them. No sooner had Mr. Poulet 
withdrawn himself, after witnessing the orderly consumption by each, 
of the allotted morsel, than such of the miserable crew as had sur- 
vived the pestilence, and remembered the close alliance between Mi- 
chael and the heroine of the marvellous tale which was still in every 
mouth, all rushed together towards him for the purpose of recounting 
it. Notwithstanding the confusion of tongues, their noisy testimony 
was too consistent to admit of doubt, and Michael remained with the 
astounding belief that his little friend was taken away to be made a 
great lady of. 

The heart of Michael Armstrong proved itself to be a very generous 
one on this occasion. 

" Some natural tears he shed, but wiped them soon." 

as he remembered that the more miserable the situation in which he 
was left, the more he ought to rejoice that Fanny had been taken from, 
it. And he did rejoice ; truly, sincerely, and at the very bottom of his 
heart did he rejoice. As day after day the hateful routine of unva- 
rying suffering again laid its grasp upon his existence, with a power as 
irresistible as that of the vast engine which within those prison-wails 



282 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

seemed " lord of all," the generous heart of Michael felt thankful 
that Fanny Fletcher shared in it no longer. It had been quite in vain 
that he had laboured to persuade himself, while listening to the rea- 
sonings of his little friend, that they ought mutually to rejoice in the 
probability of each other's death. Though he had allowed that as far 
as he was himself concerned he might easily be brought to think that 
it would be a comfort to die, he could never reach the pitch of sub- 
limity necessary to form the wish that Fanny might die before him. 
But now it was evident that this weakness, which had more than once 
caused his little monitress to shake her head, and say that he did not 
love her as well as she loved him, it was now quite evident that it was 
no selfish motive which had caused it. 

By degrees this truly noble feeling, this generous power of living, as 
it were, in the prosperity of another, so strengthened the character of 
the boy, as perfectly to save him from that worst result of youthful 
suffering, a reckless, desperate despair, which by destroying hope, that 
beautiful mainspring of all our best actions, leaves the poor spiritless 
machine alive only to the wretched consciousness of its capacity for 
pain. It is, beyond all question, this bitter hopelessness which dete- 
riorates in so remarkable a manner the moral character of operatives 
under the present factory system. In no other situation, excepting 
only that of slaves purchased and paid for like an ox, or an ass, is the 
destiny of a human being placed so wholly and completely beyond the 
reach of his own control. He is, as Wordsworth truly says, 

" A slave to whom release comes not, 
And cannot come." 

In no other situation do labouring men, women, and children, feel 
and know that unless they submit in all things to the behests of their 
employer, they must die — and that too by a process ten thousand times 
worse than either the hangman's cord, or the headsman's axe — they 
must die the death of famine. If their lingering hours of labour be 
prolonged beyond the stipulated time for which they are paid, they 
cannot turn and say, " I will not, for it is not in the bond," for the 
ready answer is, " Go. We employ none who make conditions with 
us." And where are they to go ? To the parish officers ? As ready 
an answer meets them there : " Go. We relieve none who can get 
work, and refuse it." If they are fined, however unjustly, however ar- 
bitrarily, if the iniquitous truck system be resorted to for payment of 
wages, instead of money, if their women be insulted, or their children 
crippled, and remonstrance follow, the same death-dooming reply 
awaits them : " Go, We employ no grumblers here." 

Then to what quarter can they look with hope ? Where are they to 
find that only elixir by which human strength is mercifully made for 
ever equal to sustain human suffering ? The sparkling draught is not 
for them ! The factory operative alone, of all to"*whom God has given 
the power of thought, is denied the delicious privilege of hope. It is 
this which degrades their nature ; it is this which from youth to age 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 283 

renders one ruinous hour of brutal debauchery more precious, than all 
that steadfast sober industry can promise or bestow. 

It was long, very long, ere this intellectual blight, this smothering 
mildew of the soul fell upon Michael, for he seemed to possess a sort 
of twofold existence, " the worser half of it," being his poor self, 
while the better was found in the happy destiny of Fanny. Countless 
were the miles that he walked backwards and forwards hefore the 
mules, during which he cheered his fancy by painting her in the midst 
of liberty and green fields, Sometimes he thought that if she were 
rich, she would remember all he had told her about his mother and 
Edward — that she would find them out — would take compassion on 
their poverty — would talk of him — would sooth and comfort them. 

All this may seem, to happier beings, but a frail support, under in- 
cessant labour, accompanied by every species of privation, yet it did 
Michael service — it kept his faculties alive ; for it gave a theme, and a 
pleasant one, on which to fix his thoughts, and half the the tedium of 
his own sad life was forgotten, as he meditated on the probable happi- 
ness of hers. 

Sometimes, it must be owned, — though he always told himself 
that such thoughts were nonsense, — ideas would suggest themselves 
less abstractedly disinterested ; for it would now and then come into 
his head, that Fanny Fletcher knew where Sir Matthew had sent him, 
if nobody else did ; and that, perhaps, if she grew to be a great girl, 
with power to do what she liked, she might think of him, and try to 
do something to rescue him. Vague as was this notion, vague as he 
himself felt it to be, it was a blessing to him. When such thoughts 
arose, his bodily strength seemed to revive, his aching knees no longer 
bent under him, his gait was no longer that of an ordinary factory- 
child, the energy'of his mind lent itself to his limbs, and wearily as he 
stretched himself upon his bed of straw, and long and lanky as his 
half- starved person grew, Michael Armstrong did not become a 
cripple. 

But years wore away, and the stout-hearted young prisoner of the 
Deep Valley began again to think that he had better have died of the 
fever, than have lived so long, hoping for some happy chance to set 
him free, and hoping for ever and for ever in vain. 

" I am a fool," argued Michael at fourteen, — " I am a fool for 
thinking so very much of one who it is quite plain has never thought 
of me — nor of mother — nor of my poor Edward either ; she never gave 
a thought to either of us ! I was a fool to dream it ! The fine folks 
that carried her away, took her far enough from sight and sound of 
factory-people. And who can blame her if she never turned her head 
back again to inquire about any of them ? Poor little Fanny ! She 
was very kind to me once — and she was the very prettiest little girl 
that ever I happened to see. But other people may have found that 
out by this time, as well as I. Fanny Fletcher is a whole year older 
than me ! I will try with all my might and main never to think of her 
any more !" 



284 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

This resolution was not very steadily adhered to ; but the struggle 
to do it, which was perfectly sincere, made the poor boy moody, and 
more miserable than ever. His dreams perpetually represented to him 
his mother and helpless brother, suffering from some unkindness from 
Fanny, whom he saw superlatively beautiful, and superlatively rich, 
but more superlatively hard-hearted still. These nervous and irritating 
visitations brought his mother and brother so vividly before him, that 
for weeks he could never, whether waking or sleeping, get them out of 
his head. He fancied himself again running at full speed from Dow- 
ling Lodge, with Martha's basket on his arm ; his mother's little room, 
decent and orderly in spite of poverty, came back upon his mind as if 
he had left it but yesterday. He saw the soft expression of her faded 
countenance, and felt the welcome of her fond embrace. 

"Oh, fool! oh, proud and wicked fool!" he murmured to his 
tear-stained pillow, as these, and a thousand other tender recollections 
pressed upon him. a Why could I not endure the tyrant's cruelty? I 
might have kissed her now ! I might have comforted poor Teddy !" 
The sound of his own voice as he pronounced this dear familiar name, 
though in a whisper too low to awaken the weary sleepers round him, 
wrung his very heart by the vivid recollections which it brought, and 
though he was now beyond fourteen years old, he cried himself to 
sleep. 

Fitful and feverish were the transitions of his mind at this period. 
Sometimes he persuaded himself that his mother was no more, that the 
loss of him had broken her heart, and that she had died, believing him 
to have gone before her. At other times it was Edward whom he wept 
as dead. His shattered health, his feeble limbs were, as he thought, 
sure evidence that nature meant him not to struggle long against the 
misery of his lot, and there were moments in which this persuasion 
even soothed him. 

" Sweet fellow !" thought he. " How calm and beautiful he must 
have looked in death ! Even in suffering, even in agony, his coun- 
tenance was lovely — so patient, and so heavenly mild ! Better, far 
better he should die, than live a factory-boy like me !" 

And then again his mood would change, and he had for ever before 
him images of the most fearful destitution — his mother starving, and 
Edward slowly perishing beside her, because he had been too proud 
and too impatient to endure sundry buffetings and other indignities, 
which, when put in competition with the thought of having injured 
them, dwindled into petty injuries, which he deserved eternal shame 
for shrinking from. 

Dreadful were the hours he thus spent ! and, fearful to think of, was 
the hopeless, helpless, joyless, comfortless existence by which he held to 
earth ! His very soul sickened as he looked around him, and read in 
every withered melancholy face the history of blasted youth, and the 
prophecy of premature death. 

But there are spirits which sorrow and suffering cannot quench, and 
Michael Armstrong's was one of them. Nature and accident together 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 285 

had been stronger than the tendency of his employment to cripple his 
limbs, and he was neither deformed nor stunted. This happy exemp- 
tion from the common lot, was doubtless greatly owing to the perti- 
nacity of Molly Bing, in proving to Messrs. Woodcomb and Poulet 
that she was no fool, and knew well enough what she was about. This 
steadfastness on her part, acting in unison with the superintendent's 
judicious objections to Michael's being buried at that particular time, 
had certainly given a very critical and efficient impulse to the vigour 
of a frame of great natural strength and comeliness. The energetic 
self-sustaining soul within it, had also much to do in defying the 
paralyzing influence of his miserable situation. It was rarely that 
Michael could be seen to drag his limbs along, even in the last hours 
of long-protracted labour, with the same crippled, dipping gait as his 
companions. A broken-spirited child, when his knees are aching, per- 
mits them to bend under him ; and not one in fifty, perhaps, of the 
half-starved, over-worked apprentices of the Deep Valley, reached the 
term of their captivity, without carrying away with them some species 
of bodily weakness or deformity. But let the reason be what it might, 
Michael was saved from this, and though exhibiting a fabric, composed 
of little besides skin, bone, and sinew, he was, at the age of fourteen 
years and six months, both tall and straight. 

But it seemed as if the inward strength of mental suffering kept 
pace with this vigour of frame ; for day by day the bitter conscious- 
ness of his own wretched and degraded state increased upon him — 
and day by day his swelling heart grew more indignant as he looked 
around him, and watched the exercise of lawless power and coward 
tyranny upon his miserable companions. 

It was after a peculiarly hateful display of this power, by an act of 
insult too disgustiug to relate, upon the unresisting person of a little 
fellow who seemed crawling (only too slowly !) to the grave, that 
Michael, when every other sufferer in the chamber was fast asleep, set 
himself to meditate gravely and deliberately upon his own situation. 
He had that day been so near trying the power of his bony arms, by 
flying at the throat of the ruffian who had so revoltingly outraged his 
companion, that with more than boyish judgment he became con- 
scious of the growing danger that beset him. Though he had felt 
almost to suffocation the boiling rage which nothing but injustice, 
and the pitiful abuse of adventitious power can generate, he was not 
such a Quixote as to hope that his arm could effectually redress the 
wrongs he witnessed, yet he thought with a sort of trembling exulta- 
tion, that if he had seized the craven overlooker, as he kicked from 
him the helpless object of his tyranny, he might have held him with a 
grasp that would have stopped his breath for ever ! 

It was a horrid and a murderous thought ! and poor Michael, once 
the gentlest, fondest little heart, that ever nestled to a mother's bo- 
som, did penance for it by a pang of self-condemnation, that made 
him grind his teeth in agony. Yet even then the goaded spirit 
seemed to rise in rebellion against its own remorse. 

"I cannot bear it!" he exclaimed in smothered accents, as he 



286 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

turned his face towards his bed of straw. " I know I cannot bear it 
long ! I have seen two attempting to escape, who have been brought 
back to frightful tortures — to I know not what ! A solitary cell ? the 
whip ? the knotted thong ? What matters ? Would they could slaugh- 
ter me at once ! All would be over then." 

For a long still hour of that feverish night, the boy lay sleepless. 
A terrible conviction that there was something within him which might 
prove stronger than himself — stronger than all his mother's precepts, 
and the holy fear of God which they had left upon his mind — made 
him feel sick with horror, and shudder in abhorrence of his own wicked- 
ness. He prayed to God to give him power to turn his thoughts from 
this ; and soothed to calmness by the healing act, he meditated with- 
out passion, and with great acuteness for his years, upon the probable 
result of attempting to escape. 

The difficulties of the enterprise were greater than any can imagine 
who know not the locality, and the intricate network of security which 
surround the imprisoned apprentices of Deep Valley on all sides. Of 
this the elder children, and the few who lived to approach their majo- 
rity, were by no means ignorant. Considerable pains were indeed 
taken to impress upon their minds the certainty of their being caught if 
they succeeded in clearing the walls ; together with the important fact 
that, as apprentices, it was illegal to assist them in running away from 
their master, and that it was the duty of every justice of peace to assist 
in securing and sending them back to complete the term fixed in their 
indentures. 

All this Michael knew perfectly well ; neither was he at all sanguine 
in his hope of avoiding the toils from which he had never heard that 
any had escaped. Yet he determined to make the attempt, assuring 
himself, that no change in the treatment he received could render him 
more miserable, and sincerely thinking that it would be better and 
safer for him, should the failure of this desperate attempt lead to such 
a degree of restraint as would render the yielding to such violence of 
emotion, as had that day seized upon him, impossible. 

Having come to this conclusion, and firmly pledged his young 
spirit to the attempt, his feverish restlessness subsided, and he dropped 
asleep. 

The waking of the next morning was unlike any he had ever known 
before. He no longer felt as one among a miserable crew, sharing in 
common with them starvation, labour, and indignity ; he felt himself 
to be one alone, and apart from all. He was on the eve of doing that 
which would involve him in difficulties and dangers altogether new 
and strange to him, and the only termination he could be really said 
to expect was the being dragged back to his prison to suffer all that it 
was in the power of his tyrants to inflict. These were strange mate- 
rials for meditation which was decidedly agreeable ; yet such Michael 
felt it to be, in spite of reason. A sensation of active, dauntless cou- 
rage swelled his breast, which, with all the danger it threatened, was 
well worth the heavy monotony of his ordinary existence. At times, 
too, a gleam of hope would dart across the stern and steady gloom of 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 287 

the prospect ; and during the moment that the flash lasted, he saw 
himself restored to his mother and Edward. He could hardly be said 
to hope this, yet the feeling that it was possible sufficed to sustain his 
spirits through the days and nights which preceded the attempt. 

It was exactly by the same exit that poor crazy Sally had made use 
of some fifty years before, that Michael determined to leave the pre- 
mises. The month or two during which he had been employed in 
cleaning the yard and its appurtenances, had made him thoroughly well 
acquainted with the outward door, and also with the region imme- 
diately beyond it, for it was thither that he was accustomed to convey 
all the rubbish which it was his office to remove — an office which 
might have been attended with some danger of the escape of him who 
performed it, had not those in authority taken care to inform him that 
no celerity of step could avail against the watchfulness of certain eyes 
about the factory, which were always on the alert to reconnoitre 
that door, and never far distant from the commodious windows which 
gave them power to do so. 

Poor Sally had found this but too surely in making her attempts, 
and Michael had more than once listened to the merry tradition, which 
was a favourite story with the overlookers ; of how the silly girl had run 
in full sight of a dozen watchful eyes, till her strength failed, and she 
sank down among the bushes and was taken, like a bird that having 
been long confined, has no strength of wing left to bear him beyond 
reach of the first hand extended to recapture him. 

Yet this open postern was the only one by which it was possible 
to pass ; but the very extremity of the danger of passing it, made the 
attempt easy ; for though it was always carefully locked at night, and 
the key placed, together with those of every external door on the pre- 
mises, under the pillow of Mr. Woodcomb, the manager had more 
than once seen a miserable little head peeping through it when left 
open for the passage of the wheelbarrow, without testifying the least 
alarm. 

The time chosen by Michael for passing this terrible door, was that 
during which the dirty herd were commanded to expose their faces 
and hands for a short moment to such cleansing as might be obtained 
in a huge trough, in company with a score or two of competitors. It 
was constantly a moment of great noise, bustle, and hustling; and it was 
in the midst of this that the young adventurer contrived, unobserved, to 
push back the only bolt which secured the door during the day, leaving 
it in a position to yield noiselessly to a very slight touch. At the sound 
of a bell, which rang about ten minutes after the children were turned 
out into the court to wash themselves, the whole troop hurried back 
again to the apprentice-house for their breakfast. It was then that 
Michael, often the last to finish the too-short operation of washing, 
remained for a moment behind the rest, and in that moment, opening 
the door just wide enough for his slender figure to pass, he slipped 
through, and closed it after him. 

The interval which elapsed before his departure was suspected, cer- 
tainly did not exceed two minutes ; and before the expiration of ten, 



288 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

the fact was completely ascertained and known to nearly every inmate 
of the mill. 

Mr. Poulet's second wife, to whom he had then been married about 
three years, was in appearance the very reverse of the first, being as 
remarkably small, as the other was large. But what she wanted in 
muscle, was made up in watchfulness. Nothing escaped her restless 
and malignant little eyes, and either from the incessant danger of her 
spying sharpness, or the propensity of the human mind to think pre- 
sent suffering worse than every other, there were many who declared 
they would be glad to have her brutal predecessor back again. It 
was this woman who first descried the absence of Michael from # the 
board. 

" Hollo ! where is No. 57 V she cried. 

No one could answer ; and No. 57 was sought for in vain from one 
end of the premises to the other. 

" He is gone through the yard-door I" proclaimed the active and 
intelligent Mrs. Poulet, after discovering that the bolt was with- 
drawn. " Off with you, you stupid old fool !" she added, addressing 
her husband; " what d'ye stand staring therefor? If you had the 
wit of a jackass, you might trace him by his feet on the dew — for there 
are the marks plain enough to any body, that has sense enough to 
look for 'em." 

And so in truth there were. A continuous track of footmarks, were 
easily traced from the door to the steep bank behind the factory, 
where they were lost in the covert of bushes, which had of late years 
been coaxed to clothe its sides for the purpose of furnishing fagots; 
That some one had recently broken through these bushes was equally 
evident, from many boughs having been torn, and the soil beneath 
them trampled. This was enough to direct the pursuit, with so much 
certainty of being right, that Mr. Woodcomb laughed as he gave the 
orders for it. 

" The bushes last for about half a mile," said he, " and then he 
must take over the hills, of course. Fine fellow, isn't he? It will be 
mighty hard to take him again, won't it ? There's only three justices 
of peace for him to be handed to, and only every man he meets ready 
to introduce him. The worst misfortune is, that I don't quite see 
where he is to get his dinner." 

Two stout overlookers started accordingly upon the track thus easily 
hit upon, and Mr. Woodcomb awaited the result of their exertions 
without the slightest anxiety, or any irritation of nerves whatever ; 
albeit he knew that, favourite as he was, he might run no small risk of 
losing his place, should one of the apprentices really escape — but the 
thing was impossible ; no one could live without eating, not even one 
who had served his apprenticeship to starving as well as piecing at the 
Deep Valley Mill. So Mr. Woodcomb slept soundly, although in 
ignorance of the fact that Michael Armstrong was already within a 
few feet of his premises. 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 289 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

A DISMAL ENTERPRISE, AND ITS MELANCHOLY RESULT MARTHA 

DOWLING PUNISHED MORE SEVERELY THAN SHE DESERVED VERY 

WILD PROJECTS CONCEIVED BY MISS BROTHERTON, AND SPEEDILY 
PUT IN EXECUTION. 

It is now necessary that the narrative should briefly return to the 
period of Miss Brotherton's arrival at Milford Park, after her unsuc- 
cessful expedition in pursuit of Michael. 

There was no needless delay between this return to her home, and 
the communication to Mrs. Armstrong and Edward of the dismal news 
of which she was the bearer ; nor was there any consultation on this 
occasion, concerning the mode of her reaching Hoxley-lane. Poor 
Mary had greatly advanced in independence of spirit within the last 
few months ; and had she encountered all the military quartered with- 
in twenty miles, with the Dowling family marching in procession at 
their head, she would have quietly driven through them all, with the 
carriage-windows up, perhaps, but with no greater precaution — except, 
indeed, an order to the coachman to drive on without stopping, let 
them meet who they would. 

The carriage was at the door the morning after their return, and 
Miss Brotherton had not yet named her intended expedition to Mrs. 
Tremlett. 

" You are going out without me, my dear ?" said the old lady on 
hearing it announced. 

"lam going to the widow Armstrong's, dear nurse," replied the 
heiress. " Your presence cannot help me through this dreaded visit. 
Then why should I make you share the pain of it V* 

'* Why ? my dear ! because I am of no earthly use, and had better die 
at once if I cannot be of some little comfort to you at such a time as 
this. Why, don't I know all about it, and how you must feel at this 
very moment, just as well as you do yourself, Mary ? Sure it was a 
foolish notion to leave me here enjoying the arm-chair and the foot- 
stool, and the flowers, while you are having your heart broken by 
telling that poor pale body, that the child she loved so dearly is dead 
and gone for ever." 

" If you could save either her or me a pang, nurse Tremlett, I would 
not thus have spared you," replied Miss Brotherton. " However, you 
shall go with me, dear friend. It is quite like yourself to wish it — 
and in truth, I might have guessed that you could not have remained 
easy and quiet at home while I was so engaged. And poor Fanny ! 
— I have left her very busy with Martin, assisting in arranging the 
little room I have assigned her near my own. Shall we tell her where 
we are going, in case she should come in here to look for us ?" 

" My dear Mary ! If you will take my advice, you will let her go 
too. If you do not, the whole of this terrible talk will have to begin 

u 



290 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

all over again ; for of course, when Mrs. Armstrong hears that you 
have got with you the only person who can tell any thing about her 
boy, she will be restless and anxious to see her — and then won't it be 
all over again, Mary?" 

" It will, indeed, dear nurse ! You are very right, and very wise in 
this. She shall go with us, poor child. Though it will be a dreadful 
task for her !" replied Mary. 

" And you would rather take it, dear, all on your own shoulders? 
I do not doubt that — only you don't know how to manage it," replied 
Mrs. Tremlett. " But there is another thing, Mary, that I have been 
thinking of," continued the kind-hearted old woman, " and that is the 
other poor boy. I'll engage to say, he has never missed school for an 
hour, after what you said to him about exerting himself. I saw how 
he took it ; and, therefore, you may depend upon it, that he is at the 
schoolhouse now. Then just think, my dear, what his going home will 
be after you have told all ! Poor creatures ! It makes one's heart 
sick to fancy it ! If I were you, Mary, I would send for him, tell him 
every thing at once, and then take him home to his mother." 

Miss Brotherton instantly rose and rang the bell. 

" Do not say you are of no use, my dear good creature !" said she. 
" How infinitely better this will be than the hurried, thoughtless plan 
which I had sketched !" 

A message was accordingly despatched to the schoolhouse to sum- 
mon Edward Armstrong, and in a few minutes he stood before them. 

Most true is it that there is something holy and imposing in the 
presence of sorrow. It would be difficult to imagine any entree into 
the boudoir of Miss Brotherton, which would have inspired a feeling 
both in her and her friend so nearly approaching awe, as did that of 
Edward Armstrong. 

" There is no need to tell him, poor fellow !" exclaimed Mrs. Trem- 
lett, mournfully shaking her head, as she saw the sudden and eloquent 
change in Edward's countenance the moment he looked in the face of 
Miss Brotherton. " There is no need to tell him ! He knows it all, 
already !" 

" He is dead, then !" said the boy, his pale lips parting, as it 
seemed, with difficulty, to pronounce the words, " Please, ma'am, let 
me go away." 

He looked as if he were unable to sustain himself; and Mary, 
really fearing he might fall, started from her seat, and throwing her 
arms round him, almost carried him to the sofa. 

" No, no, my poor Edward !" she said, " do not go away. Stay 
with those who love and pity you ! Poor Michael is dead, Edward, 
and we must all try to support your mother under the dreadful 
news." 

" How do you know he is dead ?" cried Edward, starting up, and 
looking almost sternly at his benefactress. " How do you know that 
they have hot hid him away where you cannot find him, that they may 
torture him, and work him to the bone, when there is nobody by to 
see?" 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 291 

"I know that lie is dead but too well, Edward," replied Mary, 
gently. " I have brought home with me a little girl who worked in the 
same factory, and who knew him well. He died of an infectious fever 
that killed many, many more. I am going to take this little girl with 
me to your mother, Edward, that she may question her, if she wishes 
it, about poor Michael, and I wish you to go with us, my dear boy ; it 
is better that your poor mother should have you with her." 

" You are going to tell mother V said the boy with a shudder. 

" Yes, Edward ! — it must be done, and the sooner it is over the 
better. Your mother is a good woman, and a pious Christian, my 
dear boy. She will know and feel that all that can befall her is the 
will of God ; and when she remembers this, she will rise above her 
sorrow, and thinking of the better world hereafter, will be able to say, 
' His will be done !' " 

" Yes, ma'am — if it does not kill her first," answered Edward. 

" Indeed, I think a great deal will depend on you, dear Edward, as 
to her manner of bearing it. If she sees you sink, be sure she will 
sink too ; but if you make her feel that she has still a beloved child to 
live for, to whom life may yet be a blessing, she will cease to repine 
for the loss of one child, for the sake of making the other happy." 

Edward slowly and silently shook his head ; but after the melan- 
choly silence of a minute or two, he said, " I will do my best, 
ma'am." 

The scene which followed beside the bed of the poor widow, was 
one of such deep, but patient sorrow, as left an impression never to 
be forgotten on the minds of those who witnessed it. Mary's counsel 
had not been thrown away upon Edward. The boy displayed both a 
delicacy and firmness of character beyond his years, and above his 
education. No ordinary topics of consolation were clumsily uttered 
to redeem his pledge to Mary, nor did he affect a stoical indifference 
which he could not feel ; but with gentle endearments he drew the 
mourning mother to think of him, and there was healing, as well as 
agony, in the tears she shed upon his bosom. 

Of all this Fanny was a silent, but deeply-moved spectator. The 
widow gave her one earnest look when Mary said, " This little girl was 
the last person who spoke to Michael before he was laid on the sick 
bed from whence he never rose, and she seems to have loved him 
dearly." 

One long earnest look was turned upon her when this was said, but 
no word was spoken to her, for the time was not yet come when the 
bereaved mother could seek comfort in any thing. Nevertheless, when 
Miss Brotherton rose to go, and pressing the hand of the poor sufferer 
in her own, promised to pay her another visit soon, Mrs, Armstrong 
murmured in her ear, " I should like to see that little girl again, 
when I can bear to name him." Mary nodded her assent, and left the 
mother and son to exchange thoughts and feelings, which, when deep 
and genuine, must ever be held sacred from every unkindred eye. 

Most watchfully did Mary attend to this poor pensioner ; and many 
were the hours during which she sat, reading the book of life beside 

u 2 



292 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

her bed. By degrees, too, the bereaved mother did bear to name her 
lost darling to Fanny Fletcher ; and having once listened to the sweet 
tones of her gentle voice, as she related all she had heard him say, all 
he had seemed to feel, and all he had seemed to think, the poor woman 
grew so enamoured of the uneventful tale, that she wearied not of 
making her repeat it. For days together Fanny would beg to be left 
beside her, while Edward resumed his place in the school ; and Miss 
Brotherton often thought, when she drove to Hoxley-lane in the eve- 
nings, to bring back her little protegee, that she had never chanced to 
witness so pretty a specimen of female tenderness and pity, as this 
lovely little girl exhibited, while ministering to the poor crippled 
woman, whose only claim upon her love was, that she wanted it — a 
species of claim, by the by, that is very rarely made in vain upon any 
uncorrupted female heart. 

With every want prevented, soothed by the most generous kindness, 
attended with the most watchful love, and cheered by a greater ap- 
pearance of reviving health in the boy that she had thought crippled 
for life, than she had ever ventured to hope for, it might have been ex- 
pected that the widow Armstrong would, in some degree, have for- 
gotten passed sufferings, and have once more looked forward with 
hope. But no, it could not be ! This last, this heaviest of all her 
sorrows came too late to be wrestled with, as others had been ; and 
though her meek nature seemed so peacefully resigned, that there was 
more pleasure than pain in watching over her, she was, in truth, dying 
of a worn-out spirit and a broken heart. 

By some means or other, the news that little Michael Armstrong was 
dead, reached Dowling Lodge. Sir Matthew knit his brows — won- 
dered how the devil any body could have got tidings of him, but said 
nothing. To all the rest of the family, save one, the intelligence was 
too unimportant to be listened to at all ; but to that one, to the al- 
ready conscience-stricken and repentant Martha, it was a heavy blow ! 
Most miserable, indeed, had been her state of mind for the last few 
months ; from the day of her painful, but useless visit to Miss Brother- 
ton, her eyes had been, in a great degree, opened to the hard and 
avaricious nature of her father's character. Like a person excluded 
from the light of the sun, and seeing only by the delusive glare of an 
unsteady lamp, Martha had passed her whole life in mistaking the 
nature and the value of almost every object around her. The lan- 
guage of Mary Brotherton had shot with a painful and unwelcome 
brightness upon the dim and uncertain twilight of her moral percep- 
tions ; and the unhappy girl learned to know that the only being who 
had ever seemed to love her, or whom she had ever ventured to love, 
was one that her better reason shrunk from, and her sober judgment 
condemned. 

Yet still he was her father, and still she loved him, and gladly, joy- 
fully, would she have given her young life, could she thereby have 
changed his love of gold, for love of mercy. Sometimes she thought 
that time and age would teach him the hollowness of his present pur- 
suits, and that if she never left him, but ever stood ready at his side 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 293 

to watch some favourable moment, she might have the surpassing joy 
of seeing his heart open to the truth, and in a state to permit her help- 
ing to lead him to efficient repentance, and the all-merciful forgiveness 
of God. It was impossible but that such thoughts and feelings must 
separate her, more than ever, from the rest of her family, and she had 
already pretty generally received the epithet of methodistical, from 
the whole neighbourhood ; but she hailed it as a blessing, and without 
a shadow of religious enthusiasm, beyond what was almost inevitable 
under the circumstances, and with no sectarian views or notions what- 
ever, poor Martha gladly sheltered herself under the imputation of both 
iu order to avoid joining in scenes of amusement for which she had no 
relish. 

In such a state of mind it was natural enough that Martha should 
deem a visit to the bereaved mother a penance which it was her duty 
to perform (though it was more painful to her, perhaps, than almost 
any other to which she could have been subjected), and she did per- 
form it accordingly. She found the poor sufferer, whose eye she 
dreaded to meet, sinking fast into peace and rest, that never more could 
be disturbed. Miss Brotherton and Fanny were both with her ; a 
bible was in the hands of the former, and Mrs. Armstrong's counte- 
nance, though greatly more pinched and pallid than she had ever be- 
fore seen it, expressed a tranquil calmness which it was impossible to 
contemplate without pleasure. 

But, alas ! for poor Martha ! she had the pang of seeing this con- 
soled and consoling look suddenly changed to an expression of intense 
suffering, the moment her own person met the poor woman's eye. 
They had never seen each other since the fatal morning on which 
Martha had so innocently persuaded her to sign the articles of her boy's 
apprenticeship, and the recollection of that scene, and all its con- 
sequences, could not so suddenly come upon one, reduced already 
to almost the last stage of weakness, without shaking her terribly. 
The distended eye, the open mouth, the heaving breast, all spoke a 
degree of agitation, which in her condition was frightfully alarming; 
and Mary, who dreaded lest the calmness of her last moments should 
be disturbed, hastily turned to the intruder, and said, " Go, go ! — 
the sight of you will kill her !" 

Though there was no more of harshness in this, than the urgent cir- 
cumstances of the case seemed to call for, Mary Brotherton would 
have rather died than utter it, could she have guessed the pang it 
gave to the already wounded heart of poor Martha. She made no re- 
ply ; but, fixing on the victim of her most innocent delusion, a look, 
just long enough to impress the terrible expression of her countenance 
upon her own heart for ever, she turned away, and reached her splen- 
did home in a state of mind that seemed fearfully to verify the annun- 
ciation, " He will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children. " 

That day was the last of the widow's life, and it is probable it might 
have been so, even if Martha Dowling had not made her unfortunate 
visit ; but the coincidence was fatal to the poor girl's peace, for the 
anxious inquiries she made respecting her, brought the intelligence of 



294 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

her death, and the time of it, with sufficient accuracy to leave no 
doubt on Martha's mind, that the event had been accelerated by her 
appearance. 

Happily, however, for those who tenderly watched her last moments, 
the widow Armstrong's gentle nature permitted her not long to suffer 
from the irritation which the presence of Martha produced, and many 
hours before she closed her eyes for ever, she expressed her sorrow for 
having yielded so weakly to feelings which she had hoped were alto- 
gether conquered ; assuring Mary (who never left her) that she ac- 
quitted the young lady of all intention to deceive her, and that the 
shock she felt from seeing her, only proceeded from the vivid recol- 
lections her appearance awakened. 

Unhappily, however, it was longere this healing assurance reached 
poor Martha; for Miss Brotherton, who was far from guessing its im- 
portance to her, had decided upon having no further intercourse with 
the Dowling family : a resolution which would never have been taken 
had her last interview with Martha at Milford Park ended more plea- 
santly. But it had been already so long acted upon, that it would 
have been equally awkward and disagreeable to break through it ; and 
Martha long continued in the terrible persuasion that she had been 
accessory to the death of both mother and son. 

The loss of the only relatives he had ever known, following as they 
did so closely on each other, made Mary tremble for the health of 
Edward. She had watched the affecting close of the poor widow's 
life with all the tender feeling such a spectacle was calculated to ex- 
cite in such a heart as hers. She had mourned for Michael for many 
reasons, and mourned sincerely ; but she had hardly known the boy, 
and it was her sympathy with the sorrow of others, rather than her 
own, which caused the event to touch her so deeply. But to Edward 
she had become attached with so much fondness, and he had inspired 
such a feeling of wondering admiration in her mind by the extraor- 
dinary faculties he displayed, and the justness and uprightness of every 
thought and feeling, that to watch over his health and welfare had be- 
come nearly the first object of her isolated existence. The few months 
which had elapsed since the whole system of his life had been changed 
from all that was most injurious to health, to a mode of living in every 
way conducive to its recovery, had produced a more favourable and de- 
cisive effect on him, than could have been reasonably hoped for in the 
time ; and it was a remarkable evidence of the powerful influence which 
such a change produces on the frame, that not all the sorrow and suf- 
fering which Miss Brotherton's intelligence brought, or the heart- 
wringing loss which followed it, could check the active energy of be- 
nignant nature in restoring health, where all she required for it was 
given, and all that had hitherto impeded her kindly operations was 
removed. Yet Edward was still lame, though so much less so than 
he had been, that his benefactress could not help indulging a hope 
that time and judicious treatment might remove the infirmity alto- 
gether. For some reason or other Miss Brotherton entertained no 
very particular respect for the medical practitioners of her immediate 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 295 

neighbourhood, and for several months after her return she contented 
herself with following: Mr. Bell's prescriptions, for friction and moderate 
exercise, without calling in any medical assistance at all. But though 
the improvement that followed was very perceptible, it was not rapid, 
and the idea of London advice suggested itself, as the most satisfactory 
mode of ascertaining at once whether a perfect recovery might be hoped 
for ; information which it was very desirable she should obtain, before 
she decided in what way she should bring him up. Since the death 
of his mother, Milford Park had been Edward's home, and the orphan 
boy's hold on Miss Brotherton's warm heart had been greatly increased 
by the opportunities this gave her of more frequent intercourse with 
her. In truth, though he still attended the school for an hour or two 
every morning, by far the more important portion of his education went 
on under her own eye, and, as well as that of his little companion 
Fanny, was beginning to take a form and extent totally different from 
what she had at first intended for either of them. Ideas respecting 
them both, began by degrees to arise in her mind, which she at first 
endeavoured to resist, as being too much out of the usual course to 
be safely indulged in ; but " use lessens marvel," and the notion of 
making a man of learning of Edward, and a woman of fortune of 
Fanny, which once and again she had rejected, as too romantic and 
absurd, gradually grew into an habitual theme of meditation on which 
her fancy delighted to fix itself. 

Mary Brotherton was at that time about twenty-two years old, ex- 
tremely pretty, and moreover almost childishly young-looking for her 
age ;andwhatever she mighthavebroughtherselfto think of it, most others 
would very naturally have deemed her adopting a boy of twelve, and a 
girl of eleven, a most outrageously preposterous and imprudent act. 
But her situation was one in most respects quite out of the common 
way, and she every day felt it more impossible that she could continue 
to endure the station of one of the magnates of a manufacturing neigh- 
bourhood, with all eyes fixed upon every thing she did, and her whole 
heart and soul recoiling from companionship with the only persons 
whom her neighbours and watchers would deem fit to be her particular 
friends. 

The heart of this isolated girl was so clingingly affectionate that it 
is probable she would, under almost any other circumstances, have at 
least loved the beautiful mansion in which she had passed the greatest 
part of her life, and felt the trees and flowers that adorned it to be as 
companions, and familiar friends ; but a thousand painful thoughts 
were mingled with the consciousness that she was mistress of that fair 
domain ; and the very fact that the education she felt inclined to be- 
stow upon the two orphans would bring down upon her the criticisms, 
and probably the reprobation, of the whole neighbourhood, making it 
very desirable that the extraordinary project should be carried into 
execution elsewhere, was in her estimation more in its favour, than 
agains it. When, in addition to all this, she succeeded in persuading 
herself, from some of her miscellaneous reading, that there were Ger- 
man baths which might assist the restoration, of Edward's limbs, and 



296 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

that it was her duty to consult the most approved authorities upon his 
case, the decision to leave Milford Park, and remove to London, was 
at no great distance. 

Had her valued friend and counsellor, Mr. Bell, led her to believe 
that all the wealth she had, if thrown back among the class from which 
it was drawn, could have sufficed to remedy the evils under which they 
groaned, she was quite capable of stripping herself to her last shilling 
for the purpose ; but he knew better, and he taught her to know better 
too ; and having convinced himself that her best chance of happiness, 
as well as her best opportunity of doing good, would be in yielding to 
the affection which " her boy and girl" had inspired, he promised to 
assist her projected removal, by seeing that the orders she left, respect- 
ing her property, were faithfully executed ; and, about eight months 
after the death of Mrs. Armstrong, the heiress left her parks and 
gardens, her splendid mansion and all its gorgeous appurtenances, to 
attend the orphan boy to London. 

The consultation which, immediately after her arrival there, took 
place upon the case of Edward, was productive of, perhaps, the 
greatest pleasure Mary had ever known ; for the sentence unanimously 
pronounced was, that the limbs of the boy were in a state of progress 
towards perfect recovery, the weakness and distortion brought on by 
his employment, not having lasted long enough to produce any de- 
formity, capable of resisting the tendency of nature to recover herself, 
if not impeded by any fresh unhealthy influence. That any such 
should arise to disappoint her hopes was not likely ; all that was re- 
quired for him being good air, regular and moderate exercise, whole- 
some food, and abstinence from all violent exertion for the next year 
or two. As to her question respecting German baths, the answer 
was less unanimous ; two gentlemen being of opinion that they would 
do no good at all ; two that it was doubtful whether the case would be 
affected by them or not ; and one that great benefit might probably 
ensue. But as all were of opinion that change of air was desirable, 
and as a pretty strong inclination to try fresh fields and pastures new 
seconded this judgment, Miss Brotherton determined to start for the 
Rhine. Mrs. Tremlett declared that she had not the slightest ob- 
jection to foreign parts ; Edward's heart swelled with an ecstasy made 
up of gratitude, hope, curiosity, and^the delicious exhilaration attendant 
upon returning health; while Fanny looked around her, and listened 
to every one whose words referred to the expedition, with a very de- 
lightful consciousness of being wide awake, but not without some fear 
that she was dreaming, nevertheless. 

Such was the party that filled the travelling-carriage of Miss Bro- 
therton, while sua English maid, a French footman, and a German 
courier, formed her suite. 

Nothing, certainly, could be well more whimsical than the party 
with which she had thus surrounded herself; but this mattered little, 
since she was pleased with it — and we must leave her in the full enjoy- 
ment of a whole host of delightful feelings, while we return to follow 
the fortunes of poor Michael. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 297 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

MICHAEL ARMSTRONG SETS OUT UPON A DANGEROUS EXPEDITION 

ITS TERMINATION PROVES RATHER MORE THAN HE CAN BEAR 

HE MEETS A GOOD MAN, AND TAKES SERVICE UNDER HIM HE 

ASKS AND OBTAINS A HOLIDAY, AND MEETS SEVERAL ADVEN- 
TURES IN THE COURSE OF IT. 

While this gay and happy party, who would any of them have 
gladly exchanged pleasure for pain, could they thereby have purchased 
only the knowledge of his existence, were thus placing kingdoms be- 
tween them, the unhappy Michael was still enduring all the miseries of 
an apprentice at the Deep Valley Mill. 

It would be difficult to imagine a stronger contrast in the situation 
of two brothers than that which many subsequent years presented be- 
tween him and Edward. Edward ! — who had ever been to him as a 
dearer second self — who had never enjoyed a pleasure unshared by 
him, and never known a sorrow that had not also been his — Edward was 
enjoying all that nature and fortune could give ; while Michael still 
hopelessly dragged on a wretched existence amidst unceasing and un- 
varying suffering ! At length the desperate resolution was formed 
which put the officials of the Deep Valley factory in the state of 
activity already described. And where was Michael the while ? 

Safely ensconced in a sort of rude drain, which he had himself 
assisted to construct, when he held the regretted office of scavenger 
of the court, and over the aperture of which he easily arranged sticks 
and rubbish sufficient to conceal him, Michael lay for many hours 
listening to the hubbub which his absence occasioned. He distinctly 
heard the expression of Mrs. Poulet's anger and scorn, as messenger 
after messenger returned, without bringing tidings of him ; and had, 
moreover, the advantage of knowing the track that he had purposely 
made on the grass which grew tall and rank immediately behind the 
factory, had led them, and would continue to lead them, all one way, 
while he would of course take especial care to go another. 

Having left his foot-marks on the grass in the manner described, 
Michael had scrambled through the bushes which covered the steep 
hill-side, for the distance of a few hundred yards, and then, taking 
advantage of a layer of stones, by which a patch of marshy ground had 
been rendered firm, he again crossed from the hill towards the factory, 
without leaving any trace behind. By this simple device his pur- 
suers were completely thrown out, for when night came and he crawled 
out from his shelter, no eye was open to look for him close to his 
prison-walls, though very keen ones were busy elsewhere in search of 
him. 

The same strength of frame which had enabled him to escape de- 
formity in the mill, helped him well now, as without food, without 



298 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

sleep, and with every pulse throbbing between hope and fear, he strode 
rapidly onward on the road he had come with Parsons four years be- 
fore, carefully avoiding its grassy margin, however, lest more footsteps 
might be traced. Then, revolving with great clearness of local recol- 
lection, the direction in which this road led, after mounting the hill, 
he firmly resolved, as long as his strength lasted, to pursue it, till it 
brought him to the door of his mother's home — provided always, 
that he was not stopped short by the grasp of an overlooker in the 
way. 

The necessity of procuring food had not appeared to him any ob- 
stacle to the undertaking ; for not only had he great faith in his own 
power of enduring abstinence, but he had faith too, in the impossibi- 
lity of begging at a farm-house door for a morsel of bread, in vain— 
nor did either hope deceive him : he walked till nightfall with no other 
refreshment than water, caught in the hollow of his hand from a 
trickling road-side spring, and a few blackberries, snatched in terror, 
as he hurried on. 

As the darkness thickened round him, he called a counsel with him- 
self, as to whether it would be wisest to lay down under the shelter of 
a hay-rick, and let sleep serve him for supper, or to venture a petition 
for a morsel of food at a decent-looking mansion which he saw at some 
distance, and walk on through the night, if he succeeded, by help of 
the strength so recruited. 

After many anxious reasonings, pro and con, he at last decided upon 
the latter, and so well did his handsome face and simple assurance that 
he was very hungry, plead for him, that he not only obtained scraps 
sufficient for a hearty supper, but a crust or two for the following 
morning ; and with this treasure he trudged on, footsore indeed, and 
with a pretty strong inclination to lie down and sleep, but mental 
energy sufficed for many hours to conquer bodily fatigue, and it was 
not till past three o'clock the next morning, that he yielded, and at 
last laid himself down in a dry, and, as he thought it, most delight- 
fully comfortable ditch, and slept the sleep of youth and weariness 
for three or four hours. The bright beams of an autumn sun shooting 
directly upon his eyes awakened him, and he started up, ready and 
able to walk forward, sufficiently thankful for the hoarded crusts in 
his pocket. 

He was now not more than seven miles from Ashleigh ; a fact which 
he joyfully ascertained by a milestone on a road which he had 
reached, he hardly knew how, but it must have been by missing, not 
hitting the way he had endeavoured to find ; for Parsons had not fol- 
lowed the high-road from the town for more than a mile, and that 
was before Sir Matthew's carriage overtook him. Michael looked 
backwards and forwards along this wide unsheltered road, and 
trembled to think how easy it would be, to see and recognise a fugi- 
tive from any spot within sight of it ; but there was a burning impa- 
tience at his heart when he thought of home, and remembered that he 
was within two hours walk of it, which left all caution far behind, and 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 299 

commending himself to God, he set off at the fleetest pace he could 
achieve, towards Ashleigh. 

No symptom of pursuit, however, alarmed him. From the moment 
he quitted the mills, to that when he reached what had once been his 
mother's door, no terror of the kind had come near him ; he had heard 
no whispering voices, nor seen shadowy figures stealing towards him 
from a distance. All he had most feared was got through with ease ; 
but all he had most fondly hoped, turned out a fearful blank. 

As Michael drew near the door, he remembered so well every 
object which met his eye, that he began to fear lest he himself 
might be remembered by others, and making a circuit to avoid Sir Mat- 
thew's mills, he reached Hoxley-lane without having met a single face 
he knew. 

It was a tremendous moment for him, that in which he first caught 
sight of the lowly door through which he had passed a thousand times 
in eager anticipation of his mother's kiss ! Some minutes followed be- 
fore he could reach it, and the boy trembled so violently that he tot- 
tered as he hurried onward, like a drunken man. 

At length his hand was on the latch ; it yielded as in days of yore, 
and in an instant the door was wide open before him. Poor Michael I 
what death can have a pang so bitter as that he felt, when the almost 
impossible project of reaching his mother's home being performed, he 
found that home empty and desolate, and telling him as plainly as 
angels trumpet-tongued could do, that she was dead ! 

A dismal groan burst from him, and he sunk on the floor, just where 
he had last stood gaily talking to her of his bright fancies for the fu- 
ture, a few hours before he was snatched away from her for ever. 

The noise he made reached the ears of a woman in the front room, 
and she opened the door of communication to ascertain who it could 
be, rummaging in the empty room that was " to let." 

u My gracious ! I should like to know who you are ? "What do 
you want here, you ragamuffin ? Is this the way you come to take 
lodgings, pray V 

This was said by a young and pretty woman who held a baby in her 
arms, and who being the wife of a confidential overlooker, had not 
only succeeded to the occupation of No. 12, upon the death of Mrs. 
Sykes and the dispersion of her family, but considered herself privi- 
leged to assume, on most occasions, an air of great importance. 

" Mother lived here !" said Michael, with a look wretched enough 
to soften the heart of the saucy girl who had addressed him. 

" Your mother, my poor boy ? Are you the little orphan Armstrong, 
then ?" was the reply. 

" Is mother dead V said the unhappy boy. 

" Dead ? to be sure she is. And where can you have been not to 
know that ? Wasn't you with her, when she died V 

" No, no, no !" sobbed Michael; " I came here to find her." 

" Poor fellow ! that's dismal enough to be sure. I bean't Ashleigh 
born, but I have heard a deal since I corned here, about the widow 
Armstrong and the boy as died !" 



300 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" Died !" echoed Michael, looking wildly at her. " Is he dead 
too ? Is my poor Teddy dead V 

" Sure-ly he is," replied the unthinking young woman, who, in 
truth, knew nothing about either the widow Armstrong or her son, but 
remembered hearing that a little more than a year before she took 
possession of the premises, a widow Armstrong had died in the back 
room, for grief at having lost a boy. She was far from intending to 
be cruel to the poor lad, who looked himself so very nearly like a 
corpse, but was too indifferent upon all subjects which did not imme- 
diately concern herself, to take the trouble of thinking before she 
spoke. 

A few more questions might probably have obtained, if not the 
truth, at least some proof of his informer's ignorance of it, but 
Michael had heard enough ; he rose to his feet, and without uttering 
another word, rushed out of the room. 

The state in which he then found himself was certainly nearly approach- 
ing to delirium. His strength of body and mind completely exhausted 
by fatigue, fasting, and intense anxiety, the blow which had fallen 
upon him was heavier than his reason could bear, and he wandered 
forth into the fields without knowing where he was, or having any dis- 
tinct idea of what had befallen him. His devious and unheeded 
path led him to a spot, at the distance of nearly a mile from his former 
home, at which several miniature rocks of sandstone give something of 
wildness and dignity to the little stream, which for the most part .runs 
tamely enough, and looks little more than a wide and dirty ditch, as 
it passes through the town of Ashleigh. A multitude of cotton- 
factories, with their tall chimneys mocking the heavens, were visible in 
the distance, on the other side, and the boy stopped in his wild, hur- 
ried walk, to gaze upon them, with a feverish consciousness that there 
at least stood something he had seen before. A frightful flash of 
memory then shot across his brain — his mother dead — his darling 
Edward dead — himself a houseless, friendless, starving wretch, who 
soon would be caught and carried back to the prison-house he had 
ran from only to learn that he had no friend on earth ! Such were the 
thoughts which racked him, as he stood upon the edge of the rocky- 
little precipice, and fixed his eyes upon the quiet water that flowed 
some twenty feet beneath him. It seemed to present an image of 
coolness and repose ; his burning lips longed to kiss the gentle ripple 
on its surface — he drew nearer to the extremest verge. 

" I should be safe there !" he murmured, looking downwards till his 
sick head reeled. " God forgive me !" he added, raising his eyes to 
heaven. " But if I drown, mother! I shall go to thee!" and as he 
spoke the words, he sprang forward, and plunged into the stream ! 

The shock restored his wandering senses in a moment ; he felt that 
he was perishing, though unconscious that it was by his own act ; and 
forgetting how little reason he had to wish for life, struggled hard to 
grasp a bush that protruded from the bank into the stream. But he 
could not swim, and the efforts he made, though they served for a 
minute or two to keep him afloat, only increased the distance between 







/ ■''?//' 



t 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 301 

himself and the object he endeavoured to reach. His heavy shoes 
filled with water, and dragged him downwards — his strength failed, 
his arms ceased to move, and in another moment the water rippled 
over his head. 

But poor Michael's history was not finished yet. A heavy-looking 
elderly man, who had as little as possible the air of one desirous of 
seeking an adventure, was in the act of examining some sheep in a 
field, the fence of which was not fifty yards from the rocky ledge from 
whence the boy had sprung. Having completed his survey, and di- 
rected two men who were with him to select a score or two from the 
lot, the old man reposed himself upon a style in the fence above men- 
tioned, and having chanced to turn his head from the sheep, towards 
the spot where Michael stood, had watched for a minute or two the 
boy's agitated movements and demeanour, but without the slightest 
suspicion of the frightful catastrophe that was to ensue. 

No sooner, however, did he hear the splash occasioned by the 
plunge, than he sprang over the style with the activity of a younger 
man, and calling to the others to follow him, made his way with little 
loss of time, to a bit of pebbly ground on a level with the stream, and 
at no great distance from the point at which Michael had sunk. But, 
short as the time had been, the ripple had already disappeared from 
the surface of the water, and no trace remained of the object of his 
search. The two young men whom he had summoned to follow him, 
though they had not seen the accident, had gathered from his words 
that something terrible had occurred, and clambering down the rocky 
cliff, were by his side in a moment. 

1 ' It is too late, lads I" exclaimed the old man, wringing his hands 
together. " I saw the poor distracted creature take the leap, but he 
was sunk before I got to the bank, and I take it he will never rise 
again. I shall never forgive myself for not going to him when I saw 
him throwing his arms about in that wild way. I might have guessed 
what was going to happen — and may Heaven forgive me for not pre- 
venting it I" 

" Tis a man who has thrown himself in V inquired one of the men. 

" Not a man, but a fine young lad as ever you see. Poor fellow ! 
'Twas early days for him to have found sorrow enough to throw 
himself out of life that way ! If I had ran to him, as I ought to have 
done, and stopped the deed, who knows but we might have brought 
him round to a better manner of thinking ?" 

" 'Tis ten to one but he'll come to the top again yet, if he hasn't 
done it already," said the man. 

" But if he comes, he'll come dead, William !" replied the old 
man. 

" I don't know that," rejoined the young shepherd." " The stream 
runs brisk ish round yon corner, and would carry him right away with 
it ; but it's worth while having a look lower down. If he rises at all, 
'twill be there." 

And so saying, the young man set off at a swifter pace than his 
master could follow him ; while the old man and the other shepherd- 



302 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

lad continued for a minute or two to watch the place where he had 
fallen. 

" Halloo ! Halloo ! Halloo !" cried a voice at no great distance. 

" That's William, by all that's good !" exclaimed the young shep- 
herd, and without waiting for his companion's reply, he ran off at full 
speed, the old man following with no lagging step, and at the distance 
of a few yards, after turning the corner formed by another huge mass 
of sandstone rock, they perceived William, breast deep in the water, 
and grasping, at the utmost extent of his arm, a limb of the drowning 
boy. Before the old Westmorland statesman (for such he was) could 
overtake his young companions, the hero of our tale was lying high 
and dry upon the bank, but whether life was quite extinct, or still 
lingered in the cold, corse-like form before them, was a question 
which, when the old man joined the group, the young ones were not 
able to answer. Luckily for Michael, the old statesman had seen a 
man saved from drowning some thirty years before, and he remembered 
enough of the process he had then witnessed, to enable him to give 
some very useful instructions on the present occasion. They managed 
to make their patient discharge from his mouth some portion of the 
superfluous draught he had swallowed, and after bestowing patient and 
assiduous friction on his breast and limbs, they had the great satisfaction 
of seeing the chest heave with returning respiration, and all other symp- 
toms of revivification follow in their proper order, till the eyes of Mi- 
chael were once more widely opened, and fixed with perplexity, and 
something like terror, on the faces which were bending over him. 

" Thank Heaven!" ejaculated the old man earnestly, " he's safe now, 
at least from drowning, and I have not got that to answer for. But he 
isn't in a trim to be left, my lads. He would have been as well in the 
river, perhaps, as out of it, if we do no more for him.' , 

Then causing Michael to sit, and examining his features, with a 
glance of very friendly curiosity, he said, 

" You don't look like a bad boy, my poor fellow. What could 
have set you upon doing such a desperate action ?" 

The effort which the poor boy made to answer was ineffectual, and 
he only shook his head. 

" I suppose it's oversoon as yet, to expect any information from 
him," resumed the old man, " so there's nothing to be done, as I see, 
but just to carry him up between us, if he cannot walk, to the Nag's 
Head, and have him laid upon my bed there, till hejs in a condition to 
tell us something about himself. Can you feel your legs yet, my 
boy?" he continued, endeavouring, by the help of his man William, 
to make him stand up. 

But Michael had no power to second their efforts ; the two lads, 
threfore, raised him head and heels, and preceded by the gray- 
haired farmer, bore him between them above a mile, to the humble 
hostelry of the Nag's Head. The procession was too remarkable a 
one to escape notice, and before it reached the shelter of the little inn a 
miscellaneous crowd of men, women, and children had joined it. 
Many of these had been familiar with the features of poor Michael in 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 303 

days of yore, but not one of them recognised the widow Armstrong's 
boy, in the long-limbed, pallid figure, that they now gazed upon. 

Muster Thornton, the Westmorland yeoman and farmer, was too 
substantial a customer to be refused any reasonable favour, and the 
ragged, dripping Michael was not only permitted to lie down on 
Muster Thornton's best of beds, but accommodated promptly with dry 
linen, and duly comforted with more hot brandy, water, sugar, and 
biscuits than he had any inclination to swallow. He took enough, 
however, to remove the faintness of inanition ; and this, together with 
dry linen, and a bed, sufficed, in spite of the heavy sorrows upon 
which his mind had not yet dared to fix itself, to sooth him into a 
long and healing sleep. 

When he awoke from it, he was capable of answering all the 
questions Mr. Thornton put to him, and this he did with a simplicity 
of pathos that went straight to the good man's heart. That he had 
been working in a distant cotton- factory, where he had been very 
hardly treated, and having got away to see his mother and his brother, 
had found them both dead, was a tale, that if it could not excuse the 
desperate act which he had attempted, at least accounted for it, in a 
manner that left as much to pity as to blame. 

" Poor boy! poor boy 1" exclaimed the old man, with tears in his 
eyes. " It was wrong and wicked, very wrong and wicked ! but you 
must pray God to forgive you, my boy, and never think of any such 
desperate doings more." 

" I did not know what I was about, if I remember rightly," said 
Michael. " My head seemed gone. I don't know how I got to the 
river, but I am sure I did not go there on purpose." 

" So much the better — I am glad to hear it — and it's no great won- 
der, sure enough, if you did lose your head, coming to such a home 
as that. But what are you to do next, my poor fellow ? I suppose 
there is no other home for you, is there ?" 

" I have no home, nor a single friend in the whole world,'' replied 
Michael. 

" And the only work you have ever been used to, I suppose, is fol- 
lowing the wheels in the factories ?" said the farmer. 

" Except once for three months and a bit that I was kept to cleaning 
the outhouses and yard, and wheeling away garden-rubbish and such 
like," replied Michael. 

" Well, but that's better than nothing, boy. At any rate, you know 
how to hold a spade, which is a long deal better than having never 
used your fingers, except for tying bits of thread. D'ye think you 
should be willing to work for me, my boy, and tend my farm-yard 
stock, and do a turn of work in the fields when it was wanted V 

" I should be willing, sir," replied Michael, while a flush passed 
over his pale face, " I should be willing and most thankful to work for 
you." 

" That's well," said the old man cheerily, " and as to terms, I don't 
expect we shall find much difficulty ; you will come to me my poor 
fellow, much in the same condition as you first come into the world, 



304 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

therefore all that you want, I must find, which will be about as much 
as I can afford to give, I take it, just at first, till you, and I too, find 
out what you're good for. Will you agree to it, my lad, and give me 
your time and best endeavours for clothes, food, lodging, and good 
will w 

" It will be a blessed bargain for me, sir," said Michael, " if you 
will add to all Jyour goodness the excusing my ignorance. But if 
will was all that was wanting to make a good servant, you should not 
lose by me." 

" And will is all that is wanting, boy. You are no fool, I take it, 
by your looks ; and if you will mind what is said, and do your best, I 
shall ask no more. What is your name, my good fellow V 

" Michael — Michael Armstrong, sir." 

"Well, then, Michael Armstrong, I am your master, and you are 
my man: And now you must eat, and then you must go to sleep 
again, I think, till I have got some decent clothes for you. Those you 
wore yesterday have had a good washing to be sure. Nevertheless, I 

don't justly like the looks of them." 

***** 

Within six months from this time, Michael Armstrong, promoted to 
a place of trust, might have been seen sitting upon the hill-side in one 
of the most romantic spots in Westmorland, a shepherd's maud 
wrapped round his person, a sheep-dog at his feet, and his master's 
flocks nibbling the short grass around him on all sides. Many were 
the solitary hours he thus passed, and very rich was the harvest they 
brought him. Had the boy remained a year or two longer in the state 
that 

/'Blocks out the forms of nature, preconsumes 

The reason, famishes the heart, shuts up 

The infant being in itself, and makes 

Its very spring a season of decay ;"* 

had Michael remained a year or two longer at the Deep Valley fac- 
tory, in the state thus admirably and accurately described, it would 
have been too late for any contemplation of God's works to have 
roused his withered spirit to worship and to hope. But as it was, his 
mind seemed to awaken day by day from the long and heavy sleep in 
which it had been plunged. With an intellect naturally vigorous, and 
covetous of acquirement, and having had his first infant stretch of 
thought happily and indelibly directed, though with primeval simpli- 
city, to one God and father of all, his transition from a condition in 
which 

" Scarcely could you fancy that a gleam 
Could break from out those languid eyes,"* 
to one 

" Sublime from present purity and joy,"* 

was rapid and delightful. His heavy losses were not forgotten ; but 
while he meditated beneath the bright arch of heaven on the mother 
and the brother he had so fondly loved, there were so many sublime 

* Wordsworth. 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 305 

and hope-inspiring thoughts mixed with his sorrow, that it could hardly 
have been called painful. 

The worthy «* statesman" to whose service he had vowed himself, 
though he did not, perhaps, follow Michael through all the improving 
processes which his mountain occupation led to, nor very clearly com- 
prehend the elevating effect of the " skyey influences" under which he 
lived, was no way slow in perceiving that the Samaritan feeling he had 
so opportunely displayed in the township of Ashleigh, had bound to 
his service one of the most trustworthy, active, and intelligent lads he 
had ever met with. There is always, moreover, in the human heart a 
propensity to cherish whatever we have preserved ; and this feeling, 
joined to his more worldly-minded approbation of Michael's good gifts, 
rendered Muster Thornton exceedingly fond of the boy, and well-in- 
clined at all times to grant him every reasonable indulgence. But 
Michael rarely taxed his kindness as far as it was ready to go. Once 
he had asked, and obtained leave to mount to the top of Helvellyn, 
and once to make a sabbath-day's journey over the mountain-tops to 
Ulswater ; these w T ere the only occasions on which he had expressed 
any wish to wander beyond the immediate neighbourhood of the 
farmer's sheep-walks, and, in truth, this immediate [neighbourhood 
included so many mountain torrents, glassy lakes, stupendous crags, 
and sylvan solitudes, that there was little need to go beyond it, in 
order to gratify a passion for the picturesque. But when Michael had 
attained the age of eighteen years, a longing, and somewhat restless 
desire seized him to revisit the place of his birth, to seek for the 
graves of his mother and Edward, to learn tidings of the kind-hearted 
Martha, to discover, if possible, whether his own escape from the 
Deep Valley had been communicated to Sir Matthew, and to ascertain 
whether he still stood in any danger of being reclaimed as an appren- 
tice, in case of its being discovered that he was at liberty. As to any 
danger of being personally recognised at Ashleigh, he feared it not; 
conscious that from his remarkably tall stature and florid health, he 
was too unlike the factory-child of former days, to run any risk of 
being known. 

It was, however, some months after this wish first suggested itself, be- 
fore he took courage to name it to his indulgent master. When at 
length, however, he did so, the good man not only gave his free con- 
sent, but declared himself well pleased that such a project had entered 
his favourite's head. 

" It will do thee a power of good, Mike," said he. " The only 
fault I have to find with thee is, that thee beest too steady for a lad of 
thy years, and that looks as if, with all our care and coaxing, we 
had not yet been able to make thee forget thy sorrowful childhood. 
Set off, in God's name, my boy ; stay as long as thou wilt, but only 
promise to come back at last, for I think it would be heart-aching 
work to part with thee." 

Michael gratefully promised a speedy return, and dressed in his best 
attire, he set forth upon his much wished-for pilgrimage to his early 
home. " It was the pride, the spring tide of the year," every leaf was 

x 



306 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

opened, yet every leaf retained the new-born freshness of its lovely 
green. The birds saluted him from every bush ; the herds lowed 
from amidst their dewy banquet, in a note that spoke their measureless 
content; and every object on which his bright young eye fixed itself, 
seemed to echo the abounding gladness of his own heart. How elastic 
was the step with which he passed along ! How proudly and thank- 
fully did he feel conscious of his own high place amidst this won- 
drous creation ! and how perfectly was he convinced, despite all he had 
read during his lone hours on the mountain-side, of the splendour of 
the cities of the earth, that nothing on its whole surface could exceed 
in grace and glory the majesty of the gorgeous sun, as he rose triumph- 
antly from out his bed of gold ! Had every thought of the boy's heart 
been chronicled, a very poetical sort of hymn would have been the re- 
sult; but as it was, all the glowing thankfulness, the heavenward 
rapture, and the joy supreme, was but for himself alone — yet was it 
not thrown away, for Michael enjoyed his own existence during these 
early hours with an intensity that made him feel all his former sufferings 
mostbenignantly overpaid by his present happiness. Yet in the midst of 
this, tears more than once started to his eyes, as he thought of his 
mother, and the brother he had so entirely loved. His very soul longed 
to have Edward by his side, as various fancies chased each other 
through his fertile brain ; and the image of little Fanny, too, with her 
soft reasoning eyes, as she used to look at him when preaching patience 
at the Deep Valley Mill, as he fondly laboured to recall it, made him 
sigh in the midst of his pleasure and his freedom, to think how sad it 
was that all he had ever loved should have passed away from his eyes 
for ever. 

But amidst the million proofs of tender commiseration for the suffer- 
ings, incident of necessity, to our place in creation (which those who 
run may read, if they are not very great dunces indeed), there is, 
perhaps, none more remarkable than the gradual softening of the 
agony which all who survive what they love, are doomed to feel. The 
state which follows, though as sad as the darkness of the lonely night, 
made visible by the pale backward glances of the parting moon, has 
the same soothing stillness too. Passion is over, anxiety at rest, 
and we feel more than consoled, we feel joyful, as we remember that 
we too shall pass away, and follow them. 

The journey to Ashleigh cost Michael three days' smart walking, but 
his pockets were no longer in the condition they had been at the time 
of his never-to-be-forgotten escape from the Deep Valley. He had 
proved himself a good and faithful servant, and the worthy yeoman 
paid him accordingly, so that he had wherewithal to recruit his spirits 
and his strength as he jogged along, and reached the hospitable Nag's 
Head in his native town on the third evening, rather the better than the 
worse for his pleasant toil. 

His first walk on the following morning was to Ashleigh churchyard ; 
but here he was obliged to content himself by knowing that the 
dear relics of those he . wished to honour were near him ; for, of 
course, the only indication by which he could guess whereabouts these 



I 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 307 

precious relics lay, was to be found in the want of all memorial. On 
the sunny side of Ashleigh churchyard, a number of handsome tomb- 
stones may be seen ; many a massive monument is there, protected by 
its strong and stately rail; and thereon maybe read, by those who 
list, the important fact that some one who bore a Christian appellation^, 
lies below. To the north, where the grass grows strongest, though 
the sun never comes to cheer it, are a multitude of little nameless, un- 
claimed hillocks, closely wedged together, and rarely showing even a 
withy-band across the swelling sod, to testify that some one has cared 
for what lay hidden under it. To this green republic Michael turned 
himself, and knew full surely that it was there his mother lay. Another, 
though even as humble as himself, might, under similar feelings, have 
addressed inquiries to the parish-sexton, and endeavoured to set his 
memory to work as to the exact spot where he had buried her — but 
this Michael dared not do ; for it would be at once losing the advantage 
of his incognito, and laying himself very needlessly open to the dan- 
ger of being reclaimed by his old enemy, Sir Matthew, as a bound ap- 
prentice, who had run away. So he contented himself with walking* 
carefully, and with reverential tread, through and amongst the many 
grassy mounds, permitting his tears to flow freely as he thought of 
Teddy, and the dear gentle mother who had so equally loved them 
both ; and then turned slowly away, following a path that brought him 
at the distance of a mile or so to Brookford factory. 

The sensation which he felt when the great many-eyed monster first 
met his sight, was one of unmixed pleasure. He literally hugged 
himself, and blessed the freedom of his limbs, the firm and healthy 
action of his pulse, and the delicious consciousness that he was no 
man's slave. 

For many minutes he stood still to enjoy this ; and as his ^es pe- 
rused line after line of the dusky smoke-stained windows, and recalled 
the early sufferings he had endured within them, his very heart swelled 
with gratitude for the change, and he blessed God aloud. But as he 
approached nearer, and perceived the dim shadowy figures slowly 
moving here and there, and thought upon the condition of each of 
them, he almost repented of his selfish joy, and blamed the ecstasy 
that for a while had made him so utterly forget that thousands were 
imprisoned still, though he was free. 

On, and on, he walked with his eyes immovably fixed upon the 
hideous fabric till, sooner than he expected it, he stood before the 
gates. He had conceived no previous plan by which to enter it, and 
knew that without some specific business, real or feigned, it would be im- 
possible ; but while he stood weighing the danger of possible discovery 
against his very strong inclination to see what alteration time had made 
in the troop within — whether he should recognise any among them — and 
whether his old tyrant, Parsons, was still their chief, — the gates 
opened, and one of the engine-men, a grizzly fellow, whom he well re- 
membered when his sable hair was somewhat less silvered, came 
forth. 
He gave Michael a look, that very plainly said, " What do you want V 

x 2 



308 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

and in truth, his neat appearance, unstained skin, and free unshrink- 
ing eye, very naturally suggested the idea that he could have no busi- 
ness there. 

" Is Mr. Parsons within?" said Michael boldly, and daring the in- 
quiry as much because he knew not what to say, as from any deliberate 
resolution to do so. 

" Yes,' 7 replied the man ; " he is about the place somewhere, I seed 
him not more than ten minutes ago." 

Michael nodded his head, and walked through the gate into the 
court, across which he had passed in trembling a thousand times. 
Nor was he now quite free from a slight feeling of alarm at the idea of 
meeting the sharp eyes of his former terrible taskmaster, and felt 
much inclined to blame himself for the curious temerity which had 
brought him so nearly within his gripe. But it was too late to retreat^ 
for at the distance of a dozen yards he saw Parsons before him, coming 
forth from the building into the court. On seeing the stranger he im- 
mediately approached him ; Michael touched his hat. 

" What may your business here be, young man?" said Parsons eye- 
ing him from top to toe. 

H I called in, sir, to inquire whether you happened to want a spin- 
ner, and what the wages may be," said Michael. 

" Is it for yourself ?" demanded Parsons, knitting his brows, and 
looking at him with a sort of incredulous sneer. 

" Why, no sir, it is for a kinsman who happens to be out of em- 
ploy," replied Michael, colouring from the unusual consciousness of 
deceit, and from the same cause casting his eyes upon the ground, 
thereby displaying the remarkable length of his black eyelashes, and 
giving to his whole countenance a look much more resembling that of 
former days, than he had worn when he first entered. 

Parsons looked at him with a sort of vague idea^that he had seen 
him before. 

" Where do you come from ?" said he. 

" From Westmorland, sir. I have been living in service there for 
these four years past." 

" And pray what may your name be ?" 

" Robert Thornton, sir," replied Michael, blushing again, as he 
thus unceremoniously borrowed the appellation of his worthy master. 

" Have you ever worked in a factory yourself?" 

" Yes, sir, I have, when I was a boy," said Michael, from mere 
want of skill and hardihood in the art of lying. 

" And you think you have bettered yourself, I suppose, with your 
fine buff waistcoat, and the rest of it. No we don't want no spinners 
here." 

Michael by no means unwillingly obeyed this dismissal, and walked 
away, more than half ashamed of his achievement. 

",If I didn't know that Michael Armstrong was dead, I should swear 
that there chap was him," said a girl somewhat older than our 
imprudent masquerader, and who had been watching him very earn- 
estly during the foregoing conversation. The observation was not 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 309 

addressed to the overlooker, but to another girl, who had brought the 
speaker her dinner to prevent her leaving some particular work on 
which she was employed. 

" What's that you say, Sykes?" said Parsons, turning quickly to- 
wards her. 

" I was saying, sir, as that boy was unaccountable like Michael 
Armstrong, as used to live in mother's back-kitchen. He wasn't 
above a year or two younger than me, and I knowed him as well as I 
did my own brothers." 

" Stuff and nonsense, girl ! All the world knows that young rascal 
died years ago ; and fuss enough there was made about it by that 
mad miss at Milford, who I suppose, found out that she was their 
cousin, or something of the sort, for she took it so to heart, that she 
sold her house and lands, and ran away with another of 'em to some 
foreign country, for fear he should die too. Sure you must mind all 
that queer story ?" 

" Yes, sir," replied the girl ; " I remember it right well, and that's 
the reason why I says that I know it can't be him." 

" Yet upon my soul, now you mention it, he was the very image of 
him. I fancied as I looked at him that sure-ly I had seen him some- 
where before. But it can't be — a dead dog is dead, all the world 
over." 

" Yes sure, sir," responded Kitty Sykes, who being what is called a 
very sightly girl, was not unfrequently indulged with a little conde- 
scending notice from Mr. Parsons. " But 'twas his queer curly black 
hair, and his particular-looking eyes as put it into my head." 

" And if you go on talking of it, Sykes, in that way, you will be 
putting it into my head too. And after all, there is nothing so very 
impossible in it. Nobody in these parts could really know much 
about it, you see, and there's no reason, as I can tell, why the scamp 
might not have run away from the Deep — that is, the stocking- 
weaver's manufactory as he was sent 'printice to, and they as ought to 
have stopped him, might have given out that he was dead," replied 
the overlooker. 

"Then if it was possible," resumed Kitty Sykes, " I wouldn't mind 
taking my bodily oath that that there young fellow was Michael Arm- 
strong, and nobody else." 

" Egad, I wish I hadn't let him go !" cried Parsons, running to 
the gates. " He was 'printiced till twenty-one, and if he has run away, 
he's liable to be taken up and put in prison, by the first as catches 
him." 

Kitty Sykes took the liberty of running to the gates also ; but to say 
the truth, she had no wish at all that Mr. Parsons should catch him 
up, and put him into prison. The girl, though she had prudence 
enough not to communicate the opinion to her friend Mr. Parsons, 
thought the stranger by far the handsomest young fellow she had 
ever seen, and secretly determined, if she could catch sight of him 
again, that she would give him a hint to keep clear of his old acquaint- 
ance. 



310 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

" There he goes," cried Parsons, watching Michael, as with upright 
gait, and rapid strides, he was pursuing his way by the well-remem- 
bered path, which led from the factory to Dowling Lodge. " There 
he goes ! He don't look like one of the mill-people any way — and 
yet the fellow said that he had worked in a factory. Didn't you hear 
him, Kitty ?" 

" Yes, sir," replied the girl, " and it was just then as I felt so un- 
accountable sure that, unless it was out and out impossible, it must be 
Michael Armstrong as was speaking. I never did see such eyes a 
Michael's, nor such hair neither." 

" And there he goes, I'll bet a sovereign," rejoined the overlooker, " to 
take a look at his old quarters at the Lodge. Kitty, I'll give you a 
glass of gin and a shilling, if you'll run after him — you can run like a 
hare, I know— run and bring him back, Kitty, there's a darling, and 
say as I have got some good news to tell him." 

Off started the girl with right good-will, having her own reasons for 
wishing to do the errand, as well as a very sufficient inclination to gain 
the promised reward. 

Mr. Parsons by no means over-rated her running powers; and had 
she been less fleet, she would have failed in her object, for Michael 
walked briskly, and without any inclination to remain longer in the 
vicinity of the mill, though by no means conscious that he had been 
recognised. 

He had just turned the corner of a hedge when the girl overtook 
him, so that their colloquy did not take place within sight of the over- 
looker. 

Michael heard the fair Kitty's approach, and turned to see who it 
was that thus came galloping and panting after him. 

" Do you want me, young woman?" said he, civilly stopping for 
her. 

" Well then, you are no changeling !" replied the girl, laying 
her hand on his arm; "you were always out-and-out, the civilest 
boy in the mill." , 

A very bright suffusion dyed the clear brown of Michael's cheek as 
he heard this. 

" I do not know what you mean"!" he replied. 

"Come, come, Michael Armstrong," rejoined Kitty, "you needn't 
he afraid of me. Don't you remember Kitty Sykes, as have gone to 
and from the mill with you and Teddy, a hundred and a hundred 
times?" 

"Is it indeed Kitty Sykes, grown into such a handsome young 
woman ?" said Michael, holding out his hand to her, and feeling quite 
incapable of preserving his incognito, in the presence of so old an ac- 
quaintance. "And to think of your knowing me, Kitty! But you 
must not betray me, my dear girl. If I was found out for Michael 
Armstrong, I might get into a scrape." 

" And that's true, and no lie," answered the faithless ambassadress, 
" for I am sent after you by that old beast Parsons, to tell you to come 
back, because he had good news for you. But his news would just 



% 







„ //ssis ^z&ay speedy //<"y/ } s!fc{?, ^# ^6ce v&u / 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 311 

be to give you notice to march into prison for having run away ; and 
I agreed to carry his message for him. He thinks that I delight in 
him, the old monster ! but I'd rather walk a mile to do a kindness to 
you Michael, than stir an inch, to please him." 

" God bless you, my dear girl ! 1 hope you have done me a great 
service now ; for I think I could show him leg bail, that he would find 
it difficult to refuse, Kitty. So now good by, old friend ; I am sorry 
to part so soon, but it won't do to stay here to be caught, will it?" 

" No, truly, Mike ! I'd be loath to see any friend of mine at his 
mercy, or at that of his master either. But you won't go clear away 
out of the country without seeing me again, will you ? You needn't 
be feared of him, 'twill be easy enough to put him off the scent. I'll 
back, and tell that we was both of us altogether deceived, and that you 
bean't no more Michael Armstrong than he be." 

" I don't think I ought to stay in Ashleigh now, Kitty ; there's 
others may know me as well as you and he, and 'twould be a terrible 
change, I can tell you, my dear girl, to come down from the hills where 
I am tending a good master's sheep, and often feel so high and so 
happy, that I think I am halfway to heaven — it would be a terrible 
change, Kitty, to come from that, into the Deep Valley Mill again, 
which is as much worse than our old factory here, as hanging is worse 
than whipping !" 

" Lord have mercy upon 'em, then !" ejaculated the poor girl. 
" But I say, Michael, you needn't run no risk at all, if I go back and 
say as it isn't you, and then you might meet me after nightfall, in the 
town." 

" It will not be very long, Kitty, before I am one-and-twenty, and 
a free man, and it's then, please Heaven, that I'll come back again, and 
pay the old place a visit. You have been kind enough to remember 
me so long, that I don't think you'll have forgotten me by that time, 
and it shall go hard with me but I'll bring you a token from some of 
our north-country fairs." So saying, he gave the damsel a kiss, and 
she wrung his hand without making any further effort to detain him. 

" God bless you !" said the retreating Michael, over his shoulder. 

" And God bless you, too, you nice boy ! muttered poor Kitty. 
" I wouldn't ask no better luck, than just to follow you, and keep sheep 
too." 

Either from wishing to look after him as ong as he was in sight, or 
for the purpose of giving him law, in case Mr. Parsons should de- 
termine on pursuit, Kitty Sykes remained stationary on the spot 
where Michael left her, till, abandoning his hardy project of a visit to 
Dowling Lodge, he had stretched far away over the fields towards the 
road he was to pursue northwards to his peaceful home ; and then she- 
walked leisurely back to the factory, where, after a sharp reproof fo. 
staying so long, and a pert reply to it, she informed the overlooker 
that they had both been wrong, but that the young lad said he might 
be found if he was wanted, at the sign of the Magpie, that was about a 
mile on the road towards London. 

Warned by this unexpected recognition, Michael determined to run 



312 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

no more risks among his townfolks ; but not being disposed to lose 
the little bundle he had deposited at the Nag's Head, he ensconced 
himself within the shelter of a small public-house, on the road-side, 
resolved to wait there till the evening set in, and then to venture back 
to his last night's lodging, pay his bill, reclaim his bundle, and set forth 
upon a night-march, which he hoped would take him beyond all danger 
of Mr. Parsons, before the following morning. 

Having secured his welcome by the usual ceremony of ordering a 
meal, Michael looked about him for some means of occupation during 
the hours which he had doomed himself to pass there, and in despair of 
finding any better literary amusement, seized upon a heap of hand- 
bills, of a vast variety of external forms, but having, as he found upon 
examination, one and all the same object, namely, the calling together 
a general meeting of the whole county of York (then undivided), for 
the purpose of signing a petition to parliament for a law, limiting the 
hours of labour in factories to ten hours a day. Michael Armstrong 
was no longer a factory operative ; free as the air he breathed upon his 
beloved mountain-tops, he no longer trembled at the omnipotent frown 
of an overlooker, nor sickened as he watched the rising sun that was to 
set again long hours before his stifling labour ceased. All this was 
over and ended with him for ever. Yet did his heart throb, and his 
eye kindle as he perused page after page of the arousing call which 
summoned tens of thousands, nay hundreds of thousands to use the 
right their country vested in them, of imploring mercy and justice from 
the august tripartite power that ruled the land. 

Very powerful was the male and simple eloquence with which many 
of these unpretending compositions appealed to the paternal feelings 
of those they addressed ; and such terribly true representations were 
found among them of the well-remembered agonies of his boyhood, that 
Michael was fain to put his spread hand before his face to conceal the 
emotions they produced. 

He had sat in this situation for some minutes, revolving both his 
former sufferings, and the blessedness of his present release from them, 
when a man, who had been quietly sitting writing at a distant window, 
but had nevertheless found leisure to watch Michael's countenance as 
he proceeded with his examination of the handbills, rose from his place, 
and gently approaching him said, in deep, yet very gentle voice, " You 
seem moved by the perusal of these papers, my good friend. Is it the 
first time you have met with them?" 

" Yes, indeed, sir, it is," replied Michael, starting from his revery. 
" Then I presume you are a stranger in this part of the country ?" 
" Why, yes, sir ; the master I serve is a Westmorland statesman, 
and I am only come this way upon a holiday trip." 

" Then maybe you don't care enough for the poor factory opera- 
tives to join their meeting, and put your name to their petition?" 

" If caring for them could do them any good, master," replied 
Michael, warmly, " they would be in no want of help, as long as I was 
near them. But I don't think the name of a poor servant-boy like me, 
could do them either honour or service." 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 313 

u Then what sort of names, my good lad, do you suppose will sup- 
port this petition. Do you think the great mill-owners will sign it? 
— Do you think such men as Sir Matthew Dowling for instance, whom 
you may have heard spoken of, down at Ashleigh, maybe, do you think 
it will be such as he, whose first object in life is to get as many hours 
of labour out of the little creatures that work for him, as stripes can 
make them give, do you think it will be such as he, that will sign the 
ten hours bill ?" 

" Not if that bill is either to hurt himself, or better the children, I 
should think/' said Michael. 

" True enough," replied his new acquaintance, " and not only is 
that true, but he and the like of him will do all that mortal men can, 
to prevent all others from signing it. But Heaven forbid they should 
succeed, young man — for if they do, the best hope of many thousand 
suffering, and most helpless human beings, will fall to the ground !" 

" Then, indeed, may Heaven forbid that they should have their will !" 
returned Michael, fervently. " When is this meeting to take place V 
he added, turning his eyes again to the papers he still held in his hand. 
H But three days hence ! — truly I should like to witness it !" 

" Is there any reason against your doing it ?" demanded the stran- 
ger. " Will your services be wanted by your master before that 
time?" 

" He won't expect me, till two or three days after it," replied 
Michael ; *' I have done all I wanted — at least I have stayed as long 
as I wished at Ashleigh, and I don't see any great harm there would be 
in witnessing; the meeting;." 

DO 

" Do see it, my good lad !" said the stranger ; " I predict that it 
will offer a spectacle such as never was witnessed before, and most 
Jikely never will, or can be seen, again. A multitude, probably amount- 
ing to above a hundred thousand overworked operatives, will meet in 
peace and good order, to petition for legal relief from the oppression of 
a system which has brought them to a lower state of degradation and 
misery than any to which human beings have ever been brought be- 
fore. Were those in whom these poor people have confidence, less 
deeply anxious to preserve the public peace than they are, a different 
mode of redress might be sought for, But as it is, an honest man 
may venture to advise such a respectable young fellow as you seem to be, 
to stretch your good master's leave a little, in order to be present at 
this great spectacle." 

A good deal more conversation followed on the same theme, and 
ere Michael had ceased to listen to his companion, he felt convinced 
that duty as well as inclination would lead him to do all that a loyal 
subject and peaceable citizen could, in aid of the suffering class from 
whose ranks he had so miraculously escaped. In a word, Michael 
Armstrong determined to attend the great Yorkshire meeting, and hold 
up his hand for the ten hours bill. 

The extraordinary circumstances attending that enormous meeting; 
the unaccountable disappointments which at every halting-place at- 
tended all the precautionary efforts of the committee to procure bread 



314 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

for the multitude, while beer was every where found ready, and in the 
greatest abundance ; the terror felt by those most interested, lest heat, 
fatigue, exhaustion, and beer, together, might lead to some disturbance 
of the peace ; and the triumphant influence of reason and kindness 
joined, in inducing the hungry multitude to separate peaceably, are 
already matters of history, and the narrative must therefore adhere to 
the fortunes of its hero, without dwelling upon nobler themes. 

In returning to Ashleigh for his bundle, Michael took good care to 
be as little seen as possible ; he was in fact more than ever anxious to 
avoid detection, as the more he meditated on his recollections of Sir 
Matthew Dowling and Parsons, the more did he feel convinced that 
should he fall into their power before the age of twenty-one, matters 
would go very hard with him. 

At the great assembling of the people at York, he feared not that he 
should encounter any enemy ; the only human beings whom he could 
so designate being likely to show themselves at the most distant part of 
the kingdom, rather than before the face of the multitude to be ex- 
pected there. No feelings of distrust or alarm, therefore, arose to 
check the pleasurable excitement which this expedition was calculated 
to inspire ; and Michael, with his stout staff over his shoulder, and the 
cotton handkerchief, containing a change of linen, suspended from it, 
set out with a light heart and active step upon a walk in which he 
soon found himself joined by many thousand companions. 

The assurance given him by his unknown acquaintance, that he 
should see a wonderful and spirit-stirring spectacle, was fully verified. 
The very sight of the road along which he travelled, which looked like 
a dark and mighty current moving irresistibly along, while tributary 
streams flowed into it on all sides, so thick and serried was the mass 
that moved along it, was of itself well worth the toil it cost him, to 
behold its peaceful tumult. From time to time Michael indulged in 
a little questioning of the various individuals beside whom he found 
himself ; but for the most part the men were too intent upon the ob- 
ject of their expedition, to converse idly respecting it — and by degrees 
our hero grew as silent as the rest, and trudged on without any other 
communion than that of his own thoughts. 

It was at about twenty miles distance from York, when the multi- 
tude were on their return, that a circumstance occurred, which, being 
of considerable importance to Michael, must be detailed somewhat at 
length. He had entered an inn by the road-side, which, being one of 
the largest post-houses on the north road, had an air of pretension and 
costliness about it, that caused the great majority of the host to walk 
on, without venturing to approach precincts so dangerous. 

But Michael was much exhausted, and having already discovered, 
•when passing before the humbler houses of public entertainment, that 
no rest could be hoped from entering them, every inch of space being 
occupied, he deemed it wisest to disburse a splendid shilling, rather 
than fag on till he had no strength to go further. 

In pursuance of this reasoning, he entered the kitchen of the Royal 
Oak, and called for bread, cheese, and a pint of beer. Though there 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 315 

were not many of his fellow-travellers either rich or extravagant enough 
to share these splendid quarters with him, there were, nevertheless, 
three or four men taking refreshment in the apartment. One of these, 
an elderly respectable-looking personage, who had, as it seemed, exclu- 
sive possession of a snug little round-table in a corner, made a sign to 
Michael to share it with him. This was gratefully accepted, the loaf 
and cheese were already there, and the foaming tankard quickly fol- 
lowed. 

" I marked you at the meeting," said his sociable companion. " It 
did my heart good to see a sprinkling here and there of them that 
come out of pure love and kindness to their poor fellow-creatures, hav- 
ing nothing themselves to gain. 'Tis a pity and a sin too, that so 
many Englishmen stand idly by, when such a business as this is afoot, 
just as if they had nothing to do with it. But they are one and all 
mistaken, and that they may chance to find out, too, one of these 
days." 

" You give me credit for more than I deserve, perhaps," replied 
Michael ; " that is, if you think my heart was enough with the poor 
factory-folks to make me take a long roundabout to sign with them, 
without having had some knowledge of their sufferings myself. You 
are right in thinking that I am not one of them now ; but I have been, 
and Heaven forbid I should ever forget it ! for the keeping that time 
mind, is quite enough to make every thing that comes to me now seem 
light and easy." 

" You have worked in a factory V said the other in an accent of 
surprise; "I should never have guessed as much — but you are very 
right to be thankful for the present, instead of ashamed for the past. 
But I don't think," he added, eyeing the fine person of Michael from 
head to foot, " I don't think I ever saw a lad who showed so little 
signs of having suffered in health and limb from it. Some lucky ac- 
cident must have taken you away early?" 

" I have seen many a boy and girl crippled for life," replied Michael, 
" before they were as old as I was when I ran away." 

" My good fellow," whispered his companion, " don't you use them 
words again. You are safe with me, I promise you ; but if you ran 
from indentures, you won't do wisely to tell of it." ' 

" You must blame your own kind and friendly looks," said Michael, 
smiling ; " I know well enough that what you say is true, and it isn't 
a thing I should have told to many. But excepting just now that I 
took a fancy to come back, and take a look about the old place where 
I was born, I have got so clear and clean away from mills and mill- 
owners, that I have grown rather bolder, maybe, than I j ought to be. 
My business now, thank Heaven ! is sheep-tending upon the beautiful 
free hills of "Westmorland." 

. " You may well be thankful for such a change," replied his friendly 
companion. " It must have been some unaccountable good luck ; for 
in general, a runaway factory 'prentice is hunted down and caught long 
before he has got among the good hill-folks." 

" It was, indeed, a blessed chance for me !" said Michael, with deep 



316 



LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



feeling. " I fell into the hands of the best man and the best master 
that ever a wretched runaway hit upon." 

i( I almost wonder at you then venturing to come within sight of 
your own place again. You can't be one-and-twenty yet by your 
looks, and you would not over-well like to work tut your time in a 
factory, I should think," said the other. 

" I don't think I should," replied Michael, laughing ; " and I have 
run some risk, I promise you , already, of the very thing you talk of, since 
I left my master's house. Nothing would content my foolish fancy for 
calling back old times, but going to look at the very factory where I 
first worked, and talking to the identical tyrant who tortured me 
there." 

" But he did not know you, I hope ?" said the old man. 

" I can hardly say that he did not," replied Michael ; *' for some no- 
tion or other came into his head, and after I left him he sent for me 
to come back again. It was, however, by a friendly messenger who 
knew well enough who I was, and gave me pretty plainly to understand 
which way I had better walk — and that was good luck again. But I 
was sorry, too, to have to turn away from the old place without learn- 
ing any news of my former acquaintance. I found the same over- 
looker at Sir Matthew Dowling's mill, and that was all I could find 
out." 

" Sir Matthew Dowling's mill at Ashleigh ? that's my country, 
too. My wife keeps a school at Milford," replied the man, " and we 
have heard enough of Sir Matthew." 

" Can you tell me any thing about his daughter Martha ?" de- 
manded Michael, with the appearance of being greatly interested in 
the inquiry. " She was very kind to me, and I loved her next best, 
I think, to my own dear mother and brother. Do you happen to 
know any thing about her?" 

" Not just at present," replied the man; "though they do say, 
that all the family are likely to have a downfal, owing to Sir Mat- 
thew's getting into a scrape about bad bills, or something or other, 
t'other side of the water. But I do well remember something particular 
about Miss Martha that you talk of, a matter of seven years ago ; and 
if she was good to you, it was more than she was to every body, for it 
was all along of a cruel piece of treachery of hers, that I lost the best 
mistress that ever man had. I dare say, if you come from Ashleigh, 
you must know the name of Miss Brotherton, though it's long since 
she left Milford. I was her coachman, and if it had not been for 
JVIiss Martha Dowling, I believe I might have been so still." 

" I was but just turned ten years old, at the time I knew Miss 
Martha," returned Michael ; " but I shouldn't have thought she could 
be treacherous to any body." 

" She was though, for all our people knew the whole story from 
first to last, and a queer story it was too, when one thinks of the end 
of it; which was neither more nor less than sending our dear young 
lady away out of the country." 

" I never happened to know anything about the lady^who owned the 






OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 317 

park," replied Michael ; " except that she was one of the fine folks as 
I have seen at Dowling Lodge, but I should like to hear the story, be- 
cause of Miss Martha." 

" Why the short and the long of it was, that there was a poor widow 
called Armstrong* — " 

Michael started so violently, that his companion stopped. 

" Did you happen to know her, my lad V he added, after a pause. 

" Yes, sir, I remember her very well — but please to go on." 

" Well then, this widow Armstrong had two sons, and one of them 
was had up to the great house, Dowling Lodge, I mean, for some non- 
sensical reason or other; and Sir Matthew pretended to make the 
greatest fuss in the world about him, and the whole country was talk- 
ing about it. But for some offence of the poor boy's, I never rightly 
heard what, the old sinner determined upon sending him 'prentice to 
the most infernal place, by all account, that the earth has got to be 
ashamed of. And how do you think the poor widow was coaxed 
over to sign the indentures ? Why by your friend, Miss Martha, and 
no one else, and that I know upon the best authority. Well, 'tis a long 
story, the ins and outs of it, and I can't say that I ever rightly understood 
the whole, but this I know to be fact : that our young mistress took 
the whole thing so much to heart, that she actually set out to look after 
the boy ; but when she got to the murderous place the poor little fellow 
was dead ! And what did she do then, dear, tender-hearted lady ! but 
bring back a pretty little girl instead of him, because, as we all guessed, 
she was determined to save somebody." 

The emotion of Michael Armstrong on hearing this, was so entirely 
beyond his power to conquer, that he lost all capability of utterance, 
and instead of asking the name of the little girl — an inquiry which he 
in vain strove to make — he sat pale and gasping, with his eyes fixed 
on the speaker, and every limb trembling. 

" The Lord have mercy on us ! what is the matter with you, my 
good fellow V said Miss Brotherton's ci-devant coachman. " You 
look cruel bad ! Is it my tale as turns you so ? or is it that you have 
walked too much and too fast V 

" No, no, no ! Pray go on !" murmured Michael, making a strong 
effort to articulate. 

" 'Tis the story, then ? and you knowed the poor Armstrongs, be- 
yond all doubt !" said the kind-hearted coachman. " Well then, you 
shall hear the end of it. When my mistress brought back the news of 
the little fellow's death, his poor mother, who was but a sickly, cripply 
sort of body, just broke her heart and died; whereupon Miss Brother- 
ton took home the other boy, put him to school to my wife, and then 
took to teaching him herself, and treated him for all the world as if he 
had been her own brother; and then she began to fancy that he 
wanted a doctor — " 

" And then," groaned Michael, suddenly interrupting him, — " and 
then he died !" 

"You don't say so?" said the coachman, in an accent of regret. 
"Did he indeed, poor boy ? Well now, I'm sorry for that; for it was a 
pleasure to see him growing taller and stouter every day, almost, as 



318 LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

one may say. And when was it he died ? It's curious that we should 
never have heard of it." 

" Heard of it?" said Michael, while a sort of wild uncertainty took 
possession of his mind, that gave him the feeling of one whose reason 
threatened to leave him. " Heard it? Why did you want to hear it? 
Could you not see it, and know it, if he was living in the same house 
with you V 

" For certain I could, if he had died while Miss Brotherton remained 
at the park ; but that he did not, for I drove him off the first stage 
myself, alive and well, and looking as beautiful as he always did, poor 
lad, for he was to be sure the handsomest- faced boy, that ever I looked 
upon. But what might have happened to him afterwards, is of course 
more than I can say ; for when the place was sold, and all of us paid 
off, all we heard was, that our dear young lady was set off to travel in 
foreign countries, and had left pensions to every one of her servants 
according to their length of service. So we know nothing since." 

" Is there no one can tell me where she is gone, and in what land 
my brother died?" said Michael, violently agitated. 

" Your brother ?" said his companion. " Who do you mean by 
your brother, my lad ?" 

" Teddy ! — my brother Edward ! — I am Michael Armstrong !" was 
the convulsive reply. 

" God bless my heart and soul ! And you be the boy as Miss Bro- 
therton went to look after? And she got into the wrong box, then, 
about your being dead? Was there ever any thing like that? But 
who was it, my boy, that told you as your brother was dead ?" 

" A woman in Ashleigh — one living in the house where my mother 
died. She told me that my mother was dead, and my brother too." 

" Did she know who she was speaking to ? Did she know you was 
Michael Armstrong?" said the old coachman with quickness. 

" No, she knew me not," replied Michael ; " but she knew that the 
widow Armstrong and her boy were dead/' 

" Then I'll be hanged if I believe as your brother is dead," replied 
the other eagerly. " When she said the widow's boy, she meant you, 
I'll lay my life on it; and there is nobody in Ashleigh, if they had 
told of her death, but would have named that of her boy too; but it 
would have always been meaning you, because every body knew that 
one followed close upon the news of the other. And I don't believe 
that your brother's dead, and that's a fact." 

Michael clasped his hands rigidly together, and closing his eyes, re- 
mained so long motionless, that his good-natured companion became 
alarmed, and laying his hand upon the poor lad's arm, shook him 
gently, as he said, " Any how, my good fellow, there is no cause for 
you to break your heart with thinking about it all. Talking about your 
poor mother, and her love of you, has made you turn as pale as a sheet ; 
and natural enough, too, perhaps. But my notion that your brother 
is alive and well, ought to comfort you — oughtn't it?" 

Michael opened his eyes, and fixing them on his companion, said 7 
" The joy of it is more than I can bear !" and then the tears bursting 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 319 

forth, he wept copiously ; a timely relief, for which he had great 
reason to be thankful. 

" Well, well, I don't mind seeing you cry a little — that won't do 
you no harm ; and thank goodness your colour is coming back again I 
I declare I thought I had been the death of you," said his new friend. 
" But I'll tell you something more, and that is the name of him as 
knows more about Miss Brotherton and your brother too, I'll be bold 
to say, than any body in the whole country, and that's Parson Bell, 
of Fairly." 

"And where is Fairly ?" said Michael, starting up. " How long 
shall I be in getting there ? The hope is only hope yet, you know — 
there is no certainty. Edward ! dear, dear, Edward ! Is it God's plea- 
sure that I should see him again in this world ? Is it possible that such 
a heavenly dream can ever come true ? Oh ! how often have I sat upon 
the hill and watched the clouds, and thought that he was above them 
all !" 

" Poor boy ! But 'twill be better still, for a few years to come, that 
he should be upon the earth along with you, won't it ?" 

" Where is Fairly?" reiterated Michael. " How long shall I be in 
getting there?" 

" Longer than you'll like, my dear boy," replied the coachman. 
" It's a good sixteen miles from this very house ; I should not wonder 
if they was to charge seventeen, and you must not think of trying to 
compass that to-night, for you are not in any wise in a fit condition 
for it, changing colour, as you do, every minute. Your best course 
will be to rest here for the night, and set off again by times to-mor- 
row morning, and that will bring you in easy by about the middle of 
the day, you know." 

" Impossible !" said Michael. "I owe you more than I am able to 
thank you for, and I would be willing to show my gratitude by fol- 
lowing your advice — only, sir, I am quite sure I could not sleep a 
wink. And I don't think it would do me any good to lie tossing from 
side to side, unknowing, for certain, whether my own dear Teddy was 
alive or dead ! So if you please, I must set off directly, that I may 
know the best and the worst at once." 

" I suppose at your age I should have done the same ; therefore I 
won't pretend to quarrel with you for it," replied the good man ; " but 
I suppose it would be just prudent to call for an ink-horn, and to 
set down upon a bit of paper the name of the good clergyman that 
you are to call upon, as well as his place of residence." 

" There is no need of that, sir," said Michael ; " Parson Bell, of 
Fairly, are the words you said, and they, as well as all the rest you 
have spoken, seem as if they were stamped upon my very heart. But 
yet, before I start, I should like to use the ink-horn too, that I might 
write a line or so to my good master. I know he will be troubled in 
his mind about me if I don't get back, and I don't know rightly how 
long it may be. God bless him, good man !" continued Michael ; 
" it was he* that had me taught to Avrite, and he shan't be left with 
any doubts or fears upon his mind for want of a letter from me." 



320 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES. 

This was a measure that the coachman greatly approved, and ob- 
serving that he was well known in the house, and sure to be minded, 
he undertook to order the writing-materials, as well as something sub- 
stantial by way of a supper ; declaring that though he had come into 
his young friends wild scheme of walking off straight away for Fairly, 
instead of putting upTor the night, either where they were, or at Leeds, 
he should not part with him without a quarrel, if he refused to ac- 
cept, and do justice to the good cheer he should provide. This kind- 
ness on the part of the man who had so strongly influenced his 
destiny, was both kindly intentioned and wisely devised ; for greatly 
did the agitated young man stand in need of recruited strength and 
tranquillity, before he set off upon a new expedition, which was to 
lead to information so vitally important to his happiness. Though it 
was somewhat against his inclination, he accepted the friendly invi- 
tation gratefully, and the materials for writing being set before him, he 
addressed the following epistle to Mr. Thornton : 

" Honoured Master ! 
" Your goodness to me, in all ways, would make any abuse of it 
on my part a heavy crime indeed — too heavy, I think, for me to 
commit, or you to suspect me of. But I cannot be at the supper- 
table at Neckerby, on next Saturday night, according to my promise. 
A very strange thing has happened to me, dear master, which may, 
perhaps, come to nothing, and in that case I know you will hear my 
story, and pity me too much to think of anger. But if all I hope 
comes to pass, your generous heart will rejoice with me, and you will 
bless your own goodness, for bringing me to the knowledge of the 
very greatest joy that ever fell to the lot of a human being, by giving 
me this holiday. 

" I am, honoured Master, 

" Your faithful and grateful servant, 

" Michael Armstrong." 

Having finished his letter, and committed it to the post, Michael 
felt somewhat more tranquil, and endeavoured to assume with his new 
acquaintance an air of greater composure, and self-possession. But his 
heart beat, his temples throbbed, his thoughts wandered, and when he 
and his friendly companion sat down to supper, the poor boy felt that 
he could almost as easily have swallowed the board itself as any por- 
tion of the substantial fare which was spread upon it. But he quaffed 
a long and refreshing draught from a pitcher of cold water, and 
putting, at the suggestion of the worthy coachman, a crust in his 
pocket, he sallied forth with the agitating consciousness that on the 
information of which he was in pursuit, hung all his earthly hopes. 

His new friend shook his head as he felt his feverish hand, and 
marked his heightened colour, and his eager eye. 

" God bless you, boy!" said the good man. " Remember, if you 
fall sick by the way,' that my name is Richard Smithson, that I live at 
Mil ford, near Ashleigh, and that I'll hold myself ready to come to 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 321 

you at a pinch, if you should happen to have need of me. And here, 
Michael Armstrong, are three sovereigns, that I give you to keep for 
two reasons. One is, that you may use them in case you have need. 
The other, that if you don't want them, I shall be sure to see you, 
when you bring them back, and that you will do, or I'll never trust a 
lad's face more ; and now good bye. It is but a wildish sort of boy's 
trick though, setting off this way at night, when you ought to be in 
bed." 

" The air and the walk will do me more good than all the beds in 
the world!" replied Michael. " God bless you, sir! See me you 
shall, if I continue to live ;" and so saying, he. strode forth into the 
night, with a longing for greater space to breathe in, than could be 
found in the kitchen of the Royal-oak. 

The boy was right as to the effect which this bodily exertion would 
produce upon him. The very darkness calmed him; he took his hat 
off that the cool air might bathe his temples with its dewy breath • 
and though his pace was rapid, and scarcely relaxed for a moment 
during many miles, the action of his pulse became more healthy, and 
the aching of his throbbing temples passed away. 

All he now seemed to fear was that his imagination should cheat 
him into the persuasion that all he wished was true. Edward ! 
Fanny ! (for of her identity with Miss Brotherton's protegee he could 
hardly doubt, when he remembered the history of her departure from 
the Deep Valley) — these names seemed to ring in his ears, and to be 
inscribed in starlight on the heavens as he raised his eyes towards 
them. And thus the sixteen miles were traversed before he had half 
chewed the cud of all the sweet thoughts that thronged upon his 
fancy. When he reached Fairly, it was still much too early to find 
any one stirring, so Michael unceremoniously walked into a cart- 
shed, and clambering up into a vehicle that had the sweet savour of 
newly- carried hay to recommend it, he placed his bundle under his 
head, and despite both hopes and fears, fell into a sound sleep, nor 
waked till cocks, hens, cows, pigs, and ploughboys, all joined in 
chorus to arouse him. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

AN IMPORTANT INTERVIEW DOUBTS AND FEARS. 

Michael's first recollections on opening his eyes were not of the 
clearest kind, and it required at least a minute's looking about him, 
after seating himself upright in the cart, before he could perfectly 
understand where he was, or why and how he got there. But no 
sooner did all the events of the day before rush back upon his mind, 

Y 



322 



THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 



than he felt conscious of being near the most important moment of 
his life. Again he closed his eyes, but not to sleep, and fervently- 
prayed that whatever might be the tidings which awaited him, he might 
have strength to receive and bear them as he ought. Then, springing 
from his resting-place upon the ground, he inquired of a lad near him 
the way to Mr. Bell's, and set off to follow the directions he received 
with no greater delay than was necessary for a short halt beside a 
little streamlet on the way, which offered a welcome opportunity of 
washing his face and hands before he petitioned for admission to the 
presence of the good clergyman, to whose words he looked forward 
with an intensity of interest which almost amounted to agony. 

Though it was still early, Mr. Bell was already in his garden, and 
when the gate opened, it was himself who turned towards it to learn 
the errand of the young stranger. Michael felt at the first glance 
that the gentleman who stood before him was the person from whom 
he was to learn whether the brother he had so long mourned as dead 
was still alive, and he trembled so violently from head to foot that he 
could not articulate a word. 

" What ails you, my lad ?" said Mr. Bell, gently laying a hand 
upon his shoulder, and looking earnestly in his face. " You have not 
the look of one who has done mischief, or else I could fancy that you 
had some terrible tale to tell. Come into the house and sit down, my 
boy, for it is very clear you are not quite able to stand." 

Michael, still silent, followed his considerate host into the house, 
and thankfully received from his hands a glass of water, which did 
him good service, for in a minute or two he was able to say, " I want 
you to tell me, sir — may God give me strength to hear your answer, let 
it be which way it may ! — I want to know — if Edward — if my brother, 
Edward Armstrong, is alive or dead?" But notwithstanding Mi- 
chael's torturing eagerness to hear the answer, he put his hand before 
his eyes, because he had not courage to bear the look that might fore- 
stal it. 

"Your brother? Edward Armstrong your brother? Who then 
are you, boy, in the name of Heaven ?" said Mr. Bell, eagerly. 

" 1 am Michael, sir, Michael Armstrong. But oh ! for pity's sake, 
tell me what I ask !" 

" Yes, boy, yes. But compose yourself, my dear fellow ! Edward 
is alive, and your friend Fanny Fletcher too." 

Michael sunk from his chair upon his knees, and lifting his clasped 
hands towards Heaven, seemed breathing thanksgivings for this as- 
sured confirmation of tidings which, till now, he had not dared to 
believe true. But, startled as he was, the anxiety, the excitement, 
and the fatigue of the preceding night and day, had been more than 
enough for him, and at the moment when every thought would have 
been joy, and every sensation delight, he ceased to think or feel at all, 
— the colour forsook his lips, his eyes closed, and, greatly to the dis- 
may of Mr. Bell, he sunk prostrate on the floor. 

No time was lost before the usual means of restoring suspended 
life were administered ; and the uncared-for factory-boy, the moun- 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 323 

tain-braced Westmorland shepherd, lay extended on a sofa, with 
essences at his nose, and the opening of his dark eyes watched for, as 
tenderly as if he had been a delicate young lady. 

A deep-drawn sigh announced to Mr. Bell, who stood by, anxiously 
watching him, that his remedies had been successful, that the boy so 
long mourned as dead, was really and truly alive, and a very hand- 
some, well-grown fellow into the bargain. 

1 ' This is a strange history, Michael, as ever I chanced to hear," 
said he, taking the boy's hand, and ascertaining that his pulse again 
made * healthful music/ " Why we have all been mourning for you 
as dead for this many a year, and now you drop down, as if from the 
clouds, and by what I can make out, have been fancying on your 
side that Edward was dead too. The first thing to do, must, I think, 
be to give you some breakfast, and then, if you are strong enough, 
you shall tell me how all this has come to pass." 

Full as his heart was, and eagerly as he longed for the conversation 
in which he had so much to learn, as well as to tell, Michael grate- 
fully submitted to this arrangement, till having received from the 
hands of the deeply-interested Mrs. Bell herself the refreshment he 
so greatly needed, he felt his young strength return, and if he 
trembled as he turned his eyes towards his kind host, with a look that 
seemed to say, " Now, sir, I can talk to you," it was from eager- 
ness, not weakness. 

Mr. Bell understood the appeal, and well inclined to answer it, said, 
" Having told you that Edward is alive and well, my dear boy, and 
only wants the sight that I see now to make him perfectly happy, I 
think you ought to be satisfied, and not expect me to tell you any 
more till my curiosity is gratified by hearing your own history. How 
in theworld did it happen, Michael, that when Miss Brotherton went 
to the Deep Valley Mills, on purpose to look for you, she should come 
back persuaded that you were dead, though the charming little girl 
she brought away with her had seen you there, and seemed to know 
you welf?" 

Michael Armstrong told his own story more succinctly than I have 
been able to do it, and probably much better too ; for he beguiled Mrs. 
Bell of many tears as she listened to him ; and bare as the sad narra- 
tive was of events, her husband also hung upon every word of it, as 
if, contrary to the theory which seemed to be pretty generally esta- 
blished in his neighbourhood, he thought the feelings and the suffer- 
ings of a factory-child might be capable of exciting interest. 

When the history had reached its conclusion, and Michael had 
fairly brought himself into Mr. Bell's breakfast-parlour, he paused, 
and with a very eloquent look of entreaty said, " Now, sir, may I not 
listen to you ?" 

" Yes, my dear boy," replied his new friend, in the happy tone with, 
which a kind heart inspires words calculated to give pleasure. " Yes, 
you have much to hear, and a wonderful story it is, I promise you. 
But it shall be all true Michael, so don't fancy that I am telling you a 
fairy tale, and that Miss Brotherton is the fairy. But first tell me, be- 

y2 



324 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

fore I go any further, what sort of a boy was your brother Edward 
when you saw him last V 

" Oh, sir ! he was the dearest, kindest fellow that ever lived !" re- 
plied Michael, his fine eyes beaming with tenderness and well-remem- 
bered love. 

" But what sort of a boy was he to look at V demanded the 
clergyman. 

Michael closed his eyes as if the better to contemplate the inward 
picture engraven on his memory. 

" His face was a sweet face," said he, a but his dear limbs were 
crippled. He was a slighter boy than me, and could not stand the 
labour of the mill ; and I fear — I fear," he added, shuddering, " that 
my poor Edward must live and die a cripple." 

" What is your opinion about that, my dear?" said Mr. Bell, turn- 
ing to his laughing wife. 

" Why, I am inclined to think that Michael will have some diffi- 
culty in identifying his brother when he gets to him," she replied. 

" Instead of being a cripple," resumed Mr. Bell, " I suspect that 
your brother is a handsomer fellow than you are, Michael. Every 
thing promised well for it when he took leave of us, and since then 
my wife has had letters from Miss Brotherton, which do not speak of 
any falling off in his improvement." 

" Nay," said the lady, " I have had more than letters to speak for 
it. Shall I show him Miss Brotherton's drawing, George ?" 

" Most certainly, my dear ; it will save me a vast deal of descrip- 
tion, and you may trust to Miss Brotherton's pencil, Michael, as im- 
plicitly as to my words, for there never was a more faithful limner." 

Mrs. Bell then opened a little portfolio, secured by a key, and drew 
thence a drawing in water-colours, the composition and finish of which 
would have done no discredit to a professional artist. How the stout 
nerves of the young and athletic Michael trembled as he received it ! 
At first his eyes seemed to fail him, the outline, the colouring, the 
whole group was indistinct. " I am a fool, sir !" he said, letting the 
hand that held it drop beside him ; " I positively cannot see." 

" I don't much wonder at it," replied Mr. Bell; " but try again, 
Michael, it is worth looking at." 

And so thought Michael, as he once more placed it before him, and 
gazed upon it with an eye as eager as that of Surrey might have been, 
when contemplating the magic mirror that was to show him what he 
loved " in life and limb." The drawing represented a terrace-walk, 
along which ran a handsome stone balustrade partially covered by 
vine-leaves ; while beneath it in the distance, stretched to a far hori- 
zon a glorious river, careering through a rich and varied landscape. 
All this was fair to look upon, but the boy's eyes saw it not — they 
were riveted upon two figures that occupied the foreground of the 
terrace. One of these was a slender girl, whose bright curls seemed 
just released from the restraint of a straw-hat which she held in her 
hand. But though the head was thus uncovered, the features were 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 325 

not visible, for the other hand was placed upon the balustrade, over 
which she hung, as if in earnest contemplation of some object below. 
But the head of the other figure, a young man of some twenty years 
or so, was so turned as fully to meet the spectator's eye ; and if the 
pencil that drew it flattered not, it was one of the handsomest that 
nature ever formed. The large expressive eyes, beaming with mingled 
softness and animation, were directed to some object out of the pic- 
ture, but at no great distance ; for the sweet smile that played about 
the mouth seemed to indicate that he was listening to pleasant words 
from some well-loved companion. The figure of the young man thus 
represented, was tall and graceful. His dress was the light summer 
garb of a southern climate — an open book was in his hand, his straw 
hat lay at his feet, beside which stood a basket of newly- gathered 
grapes, and a small Italian greyhound, its bright eye looking in the 
same direction as his own, completed the group, which spoke in every 
part of it a sort of graceful ease and enjoyment, that it was very plea- 
sant to look upon. 

" Can this indeed be my Edward?" said Michael at length, after a 
long silent examination of the drawing. " How beautiful ! — how 
noble ! — how happy — how healthful — how intelligent he looks ! Is it 
my own dear, pale, sickly brother ? Can this be true ?" 

"As true as that you stand there to look at it," replied Mr. Bell. 
" Is there nothing in the face, Michael, that recalls vour brother to 
you?" 

'Yes, sir," he replied quickly ; " the eyes and the sweet smile are 
so like my own Edward, that strange as it is to see him so healthy, 
tall, and graceful as he is represented here, and looking, too, so greatly 
like a gentleman, I do quite believe that this was never drawn for any 
one but him ; for never, never since I saw him last, have I seen such 
eyes, or such a smile as that." 

" You are quite right there, Michael. The face is one not easily 
forgotten, and I can trace it here, notwithstanding all the change of age 
and circumstance. But who do you think that slender girl may be? 
It seems a pity not to see her face ; the form, the pretty attitude, the 
bright waving locks, all plainly tell that it must be worth looking at. 
Can you guess who it is ?" 

" I suppose it is Fanny Fletcher," replied Michael, colouring. 

" And there, too, you are quite right. But does it not puzzle you 
to think how all this has been brought about ? How does it happen, 
think you, that those whom you remember in a state so different, 
should now be living as you see them here, looking as if their exist- 
ence were made up of sunshine and sweet air ?" 

" And now again I shall answer, as they say the fortune-tellers do," 
replied Michael, smiling, " by telling you, sir, what you have before 
told me. It is Miss Brotherton, whose name I well remember at 
Dowling Lodge, it is she who has done all this, and may God bless her 
for it ! But yet, truly, it still seems a mystery. How did it happen, 
sir, that this rich young lady should have left her grand house, and all 



326 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

her fine acquaintance here, to go into^ foreign countries with two poor 
factory-children V* 

" You may well marvel at it, Michael, for it is no common act. 
But will you not think it something; stranger still, if I declare, as I can 
do with all truth, that you are yourself the primal cause of it?" said 
Mr. Bell. " You look incredulous, yet so it is. Do you remember 
the play, Michael ?" 

" Sir Matthew's play ?" cried Michael, burying his face in his hands. 
** Oh, sir ! can T ever forget it V 9 

" It was a vastly gay thing, too," returned Mr. Bell, smiling, " and 
all the performers were exceedingly admired ; but you do not seem to 
remember it with any great pleasure ?" 

"Pleasure, Mr. Bell?" returned Michael, with something like a 
groan ; " I have suffered a good deal, considering how few years I had 
lived before my sufferings were over ; but, excepting the coming home 
to mother's, and finding her and Teddy gone, and, as they told 
me, dead — both dead ! excepting then, I never was ' so very, very 
wretched as while Sir Matthew was making me practise for that 

p la y ! " 

u Do you remember the very night it was acted, when you, and he, 
and Dr. Crockley were in a room by yourselves, somewhere behind 
the scenes; do you remember, Michael, his beating and abusing you 
because you had cried upon the stage ?" 

" As well as if it had happened yesterday," replied the young man, 
" I had to utter false and lying praise about him, and something I am 
sure there was about loving him as well as my dear mother. That I 
could not bear — and then it was that the tears burst out, though well 
I knew what I should pay for shedding them." 

" They were the luckiest tears that ever boy wept, so pray do not quar- 
rel with them," replied Mr. Bell. " While you were paying for them, as 
you call it, in the green-room, Miss Brotherton by accident heard and 
saw every thing that passed ; and from that hour she has never for- 
gotten you, Michael, though more than seven long years have passed, 
if I mistake not, during which you have never profited by it in your own 
person. I will not enter now 7 into any description of what her feelings 
were. An accident prevented her seeing your mother immediately, 
and when she did, my poor boy, you were already beyond the reach of 
any help. But she never ceased to inquire, by every means in her 
power, whither you had been conveyed, and it was then she came to 
me, so that it is to you I owe the pleasure of knowing one of the purest 
and noblest-hearted human beings it has ever been my lot to meet 
with. It was in consequence of — not information, for I had none to 
give — but of a hint I gave her as to the nature of the place, that she 
set off on her exploring expedition to that horrid den of sin and suffer- 
ing, the Deep Valley Mills, in Derbyshire. There she met the pretty- 
creature whom she has since adopted. Little Fanny believed that you 
were dead, and this was the dismal news they brought to Hoxley-lane. 
— Your poor mother, Michael ! But let it comfort you to know that 



OF MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, 327 

every want and every hardship were relieved from the first hour that 
Miss Brotherton saw her — and she died with the comfort of knowing 
that her poor Edward would never have to labour more. Soon after 
her death, Miss Brotherton took your brother to London for the purpose 
of consulting the most able surgeons about his lameness. Their 
science did not fail them ; for they predicted that with proper treat- 
ment he would outgrow it — and so he has, completely ; being at this 
time not only the graceful well-made personage you see him repre- 
sented there, but healthy, active, and gifted, as I hear, with a most 
rare intelligence. For reasons which it is not very difficulty to guess, 
Miss Brotherton thought that she and her young protegees would find 
themselves better off on the continent than in Lancashire ; and from 
the time she first left Milford Park to visit London, she has never re- 
turned to it. The place is now sold, and Miss Brotherton has no 
longer any possessions in this neighbourhood. And now my dear 
boy, I think I have told you all, excepting the exact spot where they 
now are ; and this I cannot do, because our last letter from her informed 
us that they were just setting off upon a tour through Italy. She re- 
sided some time ago, for one year, at Paris, that the young people 
might acquire the language ; but for the most part, Germany has been 
their home. It is there that your brother has received his education, 
and I think it very probable that it is there they will finally settle ; 
for it is in the far-famed valley of the Rhingau that Miss BrothertOR 
has purchased a spacious mansion, large enough, as she tells me, to 
accommodate half-a-dozen rich English families, with extensive and 
very beautiful grounds around it, and all capabilities for being con- 
verted into a delicious residence." 

Here he ceased, and it was several minutes before poor Michael was 
capable of uttering a single word in return. The mention of his mo- 
ther — the hint that she had not long survived the hearing he was 
dead, wrung his heart anew, with grief as fresh as if he had lost her 
yesterday ; and spite of his manly stature, the tears flowed silently, 
but plenteously, down his cheeks. Yet, even when he had conquered 
this, there was something so surprising in the present situation of his 
brother, something, that notwithstanding all the fond yearnings of his 
own heart, seemed to place them so widely asunder, that the joy 
which Mr. Bell looked for, was less obvious, than an expression of 
almost timid embarrassment, as he said, 

"Alas, sir! what shall I seem like amongst them? You speak of 
my dear Edward's education in Germany — of his learning a foreign 
language in France — while I !— my best, and truly my only education 
has been looking at nature from the mountain's side as I kept 
sheep, and all my learning, what I have gathered from a few strangely- 
mixed volumes that I have bought or borrowed during the last four 
years. How can I present myself before them ? How they can wel- 
come me?" 

" Be so kind, my dear," said Mr. Bell to his wife, without imme- 
diately replying to Michael's question, — " be so kind, my dear, as to 
find Miss Brotherton's last letter for me. I think you took possession 



328 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

of it, and I doubt not have preserved it among other treasures of the 
same kind." 

Mrs. Bell immediately left the room, and presently returned with 
the letter in her hand. 

" Take that letter, Michael," said Mr. Bell ; " take it into the gar- 
den, my dear boy, and read it alone, and without interruption. You 
will find a shady seat where you may be very comfortable, and when 
you have finished the perusal come into my study, and tell me what 
you think of it." 

Michael's hand trembled as he took the letter, and silently obeying 
the instructions he received, he walked out to an embowered spot 
where he could not be seen from the house, and seating himself on a 
garden-bench perused the following letter with a mixture of trepida- 
tion and eagerness which may easily be imagined : 

" Have you thought it long since last you heard from me, dear 
friends ? I hope you have, for it has seemed very long to me since 
last I wrote to you. But what a thief of time is occupation ! I have 
been so very busy in drawing plans for the repairing and beautifying 
my old castle— you would certainly call it a castle in England — and 
so constantly called upon by Edward, to give my approval to his 
carte du voyage for our Italian tour, and by Fanny, to sanction her 
plans for our future flower-garden, and by Mrs. Tremlett to settle 
some point of enormous difficulty respecting the packing up of the 
things to be left, and the things to be taken, that though day by day I 
have told myself, for at least a month past, that I was behaving most 
abominably in not writing, I have never before found a leisure hour to 
set about it. But if I have not written, I have drawn for you — wit- 
ness the view from my beautiful terrace which I shall send with this 
letter. I wish I could have put my own phiz in it to show you how 
healthy and well I look ; but unfortunately, you know, there is no 
point of sight from which an artist can catch a peep at himself without 
the aid of a looking-glass, and though I pretty nearly live upon my 
terrace, I have not yet taken either to sleeping or dressing there, so 
no mirror was at hand. But instead of myself I have given you Ed- 
ward ; sometimes I do feel a little glorious as I look at him,^and re- 
member the delicate pale face and feeble limbs that greeted my first 
sight of him in Hoxley-lane. He is now — but you will laugh at me if 
I attempt to describe him in words — the sketch I send is no bad like- 
ness, and may give you a tolerably correct idea of the alteration that 
has taken place. As to my sweet Fanny, though the attempt would 
have been a bold one, I meant to have given you a likeness of her 
too, but her attitude was so picturesquely pretty as she stood, uncon- 
scious of what I was about, that I contented myself with the back of 
her curly head — you shall have her face another time. 

" How can I be sufficiently thankful to Providence- for having re- 
deemed my isolated existence from the state of uselessness in which I 
vegetated before I met Edward Armstrong and Fanny Fletcher ! Not 
an hour now passes by me, without leaving behind it some trace of 



OP MICHAEL ARMSTRONG. 329 

my having advanced in the precious labour of making these two be- 
loved beings happier. Were they merely ordinary young people, with 
average hearts and average capacities, I should still bless Heaven with 
a grateful heart, for having permitted me to be the means of changing 
their condition, from one of great suffering to a life of innocent enjoy- 
ment. But as it is, I know not how to be thankful enough ! 

" It seems to me, dear friends, however much I increase my ac- 
quaintance with other human beings, that Edward and Fanny are 
the noblest creatures in the world. Is it that suffering, being of ne- 
cessity a part of our earthly nature, we cannot arrive at the perfect 
development of all our faculties without it ? Where it arrives in later 
life, perhaps, the effect, though inwardly healthful, may not show 
fruits so beautiful. There is in the minds of both of them, a bright- 
ness of intelligence, and a delicious calm of temper that I have never 
met elsewhere. It is as if a heavy weight that had been painfully 
crushing them, was suddenly removed, causing all the ordinary sen- 
sations of human existence to be felt as a luxury. Young as they 
are, they are full of instruction, right thinking, pure feeling, and 
a firmness of integrity which it is the best joy of my life to contem- 
plate — and all this built on so firm a foundation of religious principle, 
that I can have no fears for its endurance. After this, it would be 
very weak and womanish folly to dwell much on their personal advan- 
tages, or even on the peculiar charm of their manners and conversa- 
tion — yet they are gifts which bring a charm, to which it is difficult to 
be quite insensible. 

" Is it not strange, dear friends, that being such as I describe them, 
and having passed so large a portion of their lives together in the mu- 
tual contemplation of each other's excellence, is it not strange that 
they should not by this time be lovers, instead of friends ? Yet such is not 
the case. That they love each other sincerely is most true, and I could 
give a thousand proofs that either would at all times gladly renounce 
amusement or pleasure of any kind, for the sake of the other; but 
they are not in love. If I did not believe it impossible, considering 
the age of the parties when they parted, I should think that Fanny's 
little heart had been buried in the grave of Michael, the poor little 
fellow, whose early sufferings under the tender patronage of Sir Mat- 
thew Dowling, first roused my sleepy existence into action. She can- 
not yet hear his name mentioned, without betraying a degree of emo- 
tion that it is painful to witness ; and when, as sometimes happens, 
Edward is taken for her brother, it seems to delight her. « Yes, yes, 
indeed he is my brother ! I love him as such ; and if you ask him, 
he will tell you that I am to him a dear and loving sister,' I have 
her say, and if Edward had been asked, I do believe he would have 
answered, and truly too, in the same strain. 

" Edward is now twenty-one, and my pretty Fanny nineteen ; but, 
notwithstanding the variety of captivating young people with whom 
they are perpetually associating, I cannot believe that the heart of 
either has as yet received any tender impression — though in more 
cases than one, I have had reason to know that they have not been 



330 THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES 

looked at with indifference. Yet, sometimes I am puzzled about Ed- 
ward ! I think he is less gay and joyous than he used to be. At any 
time, indeed, the name of Michael has ever been sufficient to bring an 
expression of profound and hopeless sorrow upon his fine counte- 
nance, which it wrings my heart to see ; for, alas ! how vain must be 
all my affection, all sisterly love, to help him there ! But, inco'ntes- 
tably of late, his spirits have been less gay than formerly. This, to 
tell you the truth, is the o